A 93 year old Oklahoma preacher reflects on his wartime experiences and the friends he lost in WWII.

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BESSIE, OKLAHOMA -- It's nearly harvest time in Western Oklahoma.

The wheat waves gold above the town of Bessie.

The local Baptist Mission is ready early for Sunday service thanks to 93-year-old Harold Goldmann, the new preacher at this little old church in a valley where attendance is measured in two digits, and faith by the bushel.

"This is where I preach from every Sunday morning," he says from the pulpit. "10:30 to 11:30."

He's been a preacher for all of his adult life, a missionary in Germany after the war, and a foot soldier in it.

"Don't ask me why but I made it," he says.

Harold was 18 when he was drafted in 1943.

By the time he was 19, he'd landed at Anzio, Italy, liberated Rome, and seen many of his fellow soldiers perish.

Recalling the casualty rates of new soldiers, Goldmann says they lasted, "A couple of weeks at the most. In fact they never gave us a toothbrush."

Harold earned a Purple Heart from a bullet that pierced his ear and the back of his head.

"It killed the guy to my left," he says.

Goldmann was taken prisoner in the winter of 1944, escaped once, and was recaptured.

He weighed less than a hundred pounds when the war ended.

"We were weak as kittens," says Harold.

As he and other soldiers entered New York Harbor, what they'd been through overcame everyone who gathered on the deck.

"Every one of us stood there and cried because we shouldn't have been there," he remembers. "We left thousands back in Europe."

Goldmann went to college on the GI Bill, then volunteered as a missionary in Germany because he knew the language.

He never went back to his old POW camp and never spoke of his service.

"Never talked about it. Just dismissed it."

It's only been in the past few years that he began to share some of his wartime experiences with family and through a series of local news articles.

This Sunday's sermon, the day before Memorial Day, he looks for biblical passages on forgiveness, and on being made whole again.

"The trouble is it hurts," admits Harold. "It was so hard to get used to dead people."

The redemption part will have to wait for another harvest, for that day in the future when he'll be able to meet with lost friends from a long ago war.

Harold Goldmann lives in Weatherford, Oklahoma near his son and family.

He drives 30 miles every Sunday to lead the Bessie Baptist Mission.

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