Freedom Fighters: Norman Callison

JEFFERSON, TX (KLTV) - Norman Callison joined the Army Air Corps in World War II, hoping to fly, but those hopes were soon dashed when his captain pulled up his report.

"I see in this report that they were going to make a tail gunner out of you, but you've got flat feet so you'll wind up in the Army. You're going to walk instead of fly," Callison recalls being told by the captain.

However, the captain saw something in the young recruit and put him on his recon team.

"Our job was to go behind the German lines at night and just roam around and try to find out if there were tanks there, so when the Army attacked they'd know what they were up against. A whole bunch of tanks or what and that's basically what we did," says Callison.

Recon was a dangerous job, especially since the Germans had their patrols too. Callison had many narrow escapes, but during the Battle of the Bulge, there was no escape.

"I got shot on the patrol,"says Callison.

Callison's group of seven soldiers had scouted German positions across the Somme River and reported back to base that there was no bridge to cross on.

"So we came back, seven of us and the sergeant reported that there was no way we could get there, no way," says Callison. "We had a little 2nd Lieutenant, he was gung ho, he said we're going back today, going back this afternoon and you guys are yellow."

As Callison's recon group returned to the river banks, everything was quiet at first, until, as Callison puts it, all hell broke loose.

"I was the third man in the patrol. There were two men in front of me and I was the first one that got shot," says Callison.

That shot went through his hip pocket, missing his body. Callison couldn't see the German shooting at him because their soldiers were shooting from bunkers.

"When that bullet hit the shock felt like a giant picked me up and shook me and slammed me to the ground," says Callison.

Callison played dead until dark, knowing any movement would bring further shots.

"The bullet went in my left hip, it went through my colon and came out my chest," says Callison. "When it came out it hit my dog tag chain and there are still two of the little pebbles buried in the skin," says Callison.

After crawling back toward the American Lines, Callison was spotted and put into a jeep and carried to a field hospital. He then was put in an open boxcar and carried to a hospital in France. A ship carried him to England for the first of his surgeries and then to America.

He's had seven major surgeries to correct the injuries from that one German bullet.

"Every January 13, I sit in this chair and I re-live it step by step," Callison says.

Norman Callison knows he's lucky to be alive, and he says he figured out long ago just why.

"God intended for me not to die," Callison says.

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