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My Toastmasters Experience

I recently joined Toastmasters in order to work on my public speaking, however to my surprise I am receiving an education on life.  Tuesday morning I was fortunate enough to hear Bob Tauber a fellow Toastmaster and a World War II Veteran give a seven-minute speech on an experience he had during WWII.

Bob began the story with how his former wife asked him to go see a German film with English subtitles. To his surprise the film was not only about WWII, it was about his platoon.

From right to left Bob Tuaber WWII Veteran, Richard "Dick" Maches WWII Veteran, Duane Trombly Vietnam Veteran, Rachael Hoagland Iraqi War Veteran.

During WWII Hitler recruited young boys to fight in the war. An officer in the Germany Army began passing out uniforms and weapons to these young boys, when he realized he was sending them out to die. In an effort to protect the boys he sent them deep into farm country faraway from the war and told them to protect a bridge, which had no strategic value.

After recognizing it would take longer to catch-up with the Germans driving down the autobahn, due to landmines, Bob’s platoon was diverted onto backcountry roads. Tauber was in the lead vehicle when he came upon a bridge leading into a small town, he sensed something was wrong. No one was working, no animals where grazing, and no kids where playing.  As Bob tried to figure out was going on a U.S. sergeant drove up in his vehicle. The sergeant was insistent nothing was wrong and drove towards the bridge. The juvenile and eager German boys shot the U.S. Sergeant.

Without knowing how well the bridge was defended Tauber called for tanks to clear the area.  The tanks did their job shooting every house and soldier within reach. After the tanks cleared the area Bob’s platoon drove across the bridge. What they saw next was baffling. The enemy soldiers now dead and severally wounded had all been children.  For years this particular incident haunted Bob, what were those kids doing at that bridge?

Years had passed since that day on the bridge and when Bob sat in the theater, he finally understood why those kids were there. It was only the second time Bob told this story and was the first time his son heard his father talk about the war. When Bob finished his speech many of us were holding back tears and you could hear a pin drop. Toastmaster No. 624 is more than a public speaking group —  it is living history.

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