Pfc. Angus 'Angie' Morrison, Casper
Angus 'Angie' Morrison recounts his time spent in Germany just after the war ended from his home in Casper. (Kerry Huller/Star-Tribune)

You probably know him as Angie (pronounced Ang-y, with a hard 'g') -- a Casper man born and raised, an original founder of Hogadon Ski Area and the Civil Air Patrol. He worked for Texaco Refinery as a lab technician.

What you may not know about him is what came before, after he followed his older brother into the Army. He combed Germany for Nazi sympathizers and SS soldiers, going house to house looking for those who couldn't accept that the fighting was essentially over, that the Allies had won. He interrogated former Nazis and guarded the captured treasure of Hermann Goering, Hitler's designated successor, collected from Jewish families. It was so valuable that soldiers were only allowed to guard it for one two-week stint, and the password was changed every day.

By the winter of 1945, American soldiers had been fighting for three years. Angie and the soldiers on his ship were replacements for the war weary.

"They just needed warm bodies," Angie said.

The American soldiers rode from Saint Lo, France, into Germany on a freight train, through the snow and rain, with no overshoes to protect their freezing feet. To break the cold, they pulled boards off of fences and grabbed any pieces of wood they could as the train roared past. The fire they built took the edge off of the cold, but they had to put it out when it ignited the boxcar's wooden floor.

Angie eventually joined the 35th Tank Battalion in Landschutt, Bavaria, in southern Germany. They were replacements for a company nearly wiped out while crossing the Rhine River.

Officers warned the new recruits not to fraternize with the Germans and not to wander out of the perimeter. Some sympathizers didn't believe the fighting was over. They waited to ambush Americans caught alone.

Eight or nine of you smart guys, who think you can handle anything, aren't going to show up one day for roll call, an officer told them. He pulled back a tarp covering the back of a truck. Inside were the mutilated bodies of some of those "smart soldiers," Americans who had missed recent roll calls. "That made quite an impression," Angie said.

For a time, he was stationed at a prison camp, watching over SS men who had previously guarded American prisoners.

"They were arrogant as hell," Angie remembers.

One American soldier really hated those men. He'd been a prisoner in that camp until it was liberated. Earlier in the war, he'd seen a German kill his twin brother, while the German was in civilian clothes. The man said he knew the SOB who did it, would never forget his face. The American had re-enlisted just to find him.

See that guy picking up horse crap? the soldier told Angie one day as they walked through the camp. That's what I used to do. They used to spit on me. Don't be alarmed if you see me knock a few of them off the sidewalk.

As the two walked by, the SS prisoners stepped off the sidewalk on their own. They'd already learned their lesson.

On May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted Germany's unconditional surrender. Victory in Europe Day.

Angie spent the rest of the war patrolling the German countryside, going door to door looking for Nazi sympathizers. A small group would ride through a village at about 15 miles per hour. From the corners of their eyes, they'd study their target: How many windows? Where were the doors? Which corners provided the best cover and view?

They'd drive 12 to 14 miles out of town and wait about 30 minutes. Then they'd go back, secure the house. The Germans who got away ran into the forest, where more Americans captured them.

Once, Angie noticed a man walking across a field. He shouldn't have been there. Experience told Angie that something was going on in a nearby barn.

Out! Out! he shouted in German, using language he'd picked up along the way.

Don't shoot! Don't shoot! a man shouted back.

Four men had been hiding beneath the barn, including a 14-year-old boy captured in northern Poland. Another man had spent seven or eight years as a prisoner of war in Russia. Both of his legs were amputated above the knee. An arm amputated above the elbow. One eye had been shot out. He'd fashioned pegs to his stumps and walked from Russia when the Germans relinquished his camp.

At first, he pretended not to speak English. But when he heard he'd be sent back to Russia, he remembered he spoke it fine. Nobody wanted to be handed to the Russians.

Angie came home near the end of 1946, but not before he got the scolding of his life.

He'd been in charge of the first tank sent to raid a small Bavarian town. He stopped it at the top of the hill outside town and waited for the rest to get into position.

The Americans had moved in under darkness, lights out. They planned to use the element of surprise, go in together and flush out the SS soldiers believed to be there.

As they waited in the silence, Angie's tank driver asked him to double check the running lights, to make sure they were off. Angie leaned out of the turret. He realized too late his chin strap wasn't fastened. His steel helmet clanked against the cobblestone road, echoing as it rolled toward down the hill.

Soon after, Angie noticed someone walking up with the wayward helmet. All he could make out were the white grips of the man's pistols.

I hope that isn't who I think it is, the tank driver whispered.

It was.

Who owns this helmet? Gen. George S. Patton III shouted, his voice booming. Angie's bowels turned to ice.

It's mine, he answered.

Soldier, you have woken up every damn Kraut in this town, Patton said, shoving the helmet in Angie's gut.

The teasing began as soon as Patton was out of earshot. The three men in Angie's tank wondered why he didn't ask for an autograph.

Age: 84

Unit: 35th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division. At the end of the war, the battalion's name was changed to the 35th Constabulary and combined with other units.

War fronts: Volunteered for the Army in 1944 and stayed in until just before the Korean War. By the time he arrived in Germany, much of the combat had ended. "The war is over," Angie remembers an officer saying. "Now we have to win the peace."

His words: Leaving Staten Island on his way to Europe, and again as he sailed home, Angie passed by the Statue of Liberty.

"It didn't mean much to be me then. But when I came home it sure did."

Family: Married since 1963. Has one daughter.

On the Web: Watch more of Angie's story and see profiles of more veterans at www.trib.com/honor

Next week's profile: Sixty-six years ago, God saved Tom Bell. Since then, he’s worked to save Wyoming’s greatest resources: its land, animals and air.

They Served With Honor

Some have said that 1,000 World War II veterans die each day in United States. History dies with each one.

"They Served With Honor" is a special project by the Star-Tribune to collect stories from Wyoming World War II veterans. We will feature one story each week, from Veterans Day to Veterans Day.

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