Wapello County

Sgt. John Martsching





Still Has Eye On Iowa Farm—

After a year of “sightseeing” over Germany, France and Italy, Sgt. John Martsching, 24-year-old Ottumwa farmer by birth and choice and an expert aerial gunner by profession, has come on a short furlough.

He only gets 15 days but he is making every minute of it county, visiting his family, Mr. and Mrs. William Martsching on route 6 and the neighbor girl, who is “his girl” all through school days but who has now become his fiancée in the few days since his return.

Sergeant Martsching’s “sightseeing” was officially confined to seeing enemy fighter and bomber planes through the sights of his two top turret guns in his Flying Fortress.  However, he will tell you more about methods of farming in England and Africa than he will of what he saw through the sight of those guns.

49 Aerial Missions!
That “sightseeing” through his gun sights must be pretty largely pieced together, though he must have done a lot of it since he is wearing the army air medal and eight oak leaves which represent 45 missions over enemy targets and he was on four other missions for a total of 49.

These missions ranged from four hours to one of eight and one half hours when flying over Italy from his base in Africa.  Seldom did they have fighter plane escort, but he minimized that fact as he explained that his Fortress “could pretty well take care of itself.”

When flying out of Africa on one mission, his ship was attacked by a group of German fighter planes that shot off one of their motors.  The battle lasted for more than a half hour but his pilot was able to bring the Fortress back to their base with no casualties.

Last January his family was informed by the War Department that he was bombed in Africa and injured.  He still carries shrapnel in his leg from that wound, but when he was asked about it and how long he was in the hospital he said that he was only in the hospital one night because, …”we were pretty busy then.”

Overseas Year Ago.
Sergeant Martsching went to England in July just a year ago.  One of the Fortress crew of nine men, he saw service over France and Germany until November when he and his ship were a part of the invasion force that took Africa.  Here he was in the thick of the fighting that smashed that part of the axis world and flew the Mediterranean many times to crack targets in Italy.

He told of the farming in Africa where oxen and burros are the motive power used in tilling the soil.  Only small grain and hay is raised there, he said, and it seemed a “far cry” in farming from the land of his home.  In England there are some tractors in use but they are outmoded models and farming generally was on an inferior scale to farming in Iowa.

When his 15-day furlough is ended, he will report to Westover Field, Mass., and get on with the war, but it is easy to see that Sergeant John Martsching, veteran sky gunner of the army, is looking forward to the day when he and “his girl” can take over an Iowa farm and “get on” with the business of living the life for which he was intended.

Source: Ottumwa Daily Courier, July 19, 1943 (photo included)