Although World War II lasted five years and took more than 292,000 American lives, Buster Barlow was to see his first action in January of 1945. By then, much of the war was over. The problem was that the Germans didn't know it.
Assigned to an armored field artillary division, Barlow and his company remained under heavy fire as they made their way through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany during the coldest winter Europe had experienced in more than 100 years. Barlow says that for young men who had never been under fire, the first fight was the hardest. After that, they became seasoned fighters.
However, the seasoning of war didn't prepare them for the horrors they saw when they freed the prisoners of the Dachau Conscentration Camp. The soldiers hadn't heard of the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe and the condition of the few survivors is something Barlow says they'll never forget.
In April of 1945, Barlow was transferred to America's west coast for the invasion of Japan. But when Japan surrendered, the war was over for Barlow and thousands of American soldiers.
Thanks to the GI Bill, Barlow was able to complete his college education. For 30 years, he's been the owner of Tyler's Goldleaf Gallery.
While the horrors of war will always be part of his memories, Buster Barlow is proud that he was able to fight for his country's freedom.