WEST BOUNTIFUL — Throughout his military career as a fighter pilot, Col. Jack Tueller played his trumpet to relieve stress.
“When everyone else was stressed, they’d get their bottle of rum, or Jack Daniels out,” Tueller said. “I’d play my trumpet.” He was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his unit.
Tueller, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam is now 92, but he’s still going strong, and is willing to share his story of bravery, respect and the power of music.
Tueller, of Bountiful, was the guest speaker at the Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club last week, where members clamored to hear his story of playing a German love song on an airstrip to the enemy a few miles from Omaha Beach at the height of World War II in 1944.
Three weeks after the D-Day invasion, Tueller’s P-47 fighter group left England for an airstrip, “which had been hewn from the apple orchards at Normandy,” he said.
The effort to build that airstrip cost the lives of 28 Army engineers at the hands of German Army snipers.
“The smell of death permeated the air,” he said. The fighter group had been told to take out a German Panzer division.
As they descended on the tank division, the pilots saw a splotch of red and several splotches of yellow. As they got closer, they could see it was a French mother “dressed in the reddest dress they could find, and her children dressed in yellow,” Tueller said. The Germans were using them as human shields.
The P-47 pilots pulled up and asked for further orders. “What we heard was that these civilians were expendable. We had to go get that armor.”
That day, Tueller lost four of his comrades who were so intent on getting the tanks, they didn’t pull up in time and crashed after firing on the tanks.
“When we got back, everyone was so stressed out, they pulled out their bottle of rum and I pulled out my trumpet,” Tueller said.
For more information check out the Sept 13 edition of Davis Clipper.