John S. Bird


Born in England, John came to the United States at the age of five in 1930. He attended a private school in Canada and lived in New Jersey and New York. Drafted shortly after beginning studies at Princeton University in 1943, he was assigned to the 86th Infantry Division. John expected to be sent to the Pacific, but instead went to Europe during the Battle of the Bulge (late 1944) and was with Patton’s army as it advanced through Bavaria and Austria. As the war was ending, his platoon – leaving the main highway to avoid German snipers – stumbled upon Dachau and assisted in its liberation. Soon afterwards, the 86th was given a short furlough at home and then sent to the Pacific for the invasion of the Philippines. He was there when the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war against Japan. For about six months after V-J Day, he helped comb remote Pacific islands for Japanese soldiers who did not know the war had ended. He was eventually able to resume his studies at Princeton and went to work in New York City. He married, moved to Ohio, and eventually settled in Troy to work at Hobart Brothers. He retired in 1990 as Superintendent of the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology. He and his wife have three children and eight grandchildren.

General George Patton’s Third Army took part in the invasion of Normandy and then the vast sweep across France which liberated that country in the summer and fall of 1944. Patton continued on into Germany that winter, and his troops were usually at the forefront. This is why so many were present at the liberation of concentration camps.