One Thanksgiving, we fed a small German village.
In 1951, after World War II, people in the countryside were going hungry. We were American soldiers of the 30th Field Artillery Battalion, stationed in the rural area of Erlangen. The burgermeister (mayor) of the village asked if we would shoot the wild boar that were overrunning their small farms, destroying what little crops they had to feed themselves.
About six of us got together to help them out. As a guy from Brooklyn, I had no idea how big and wild these boars could be or what to expect. The farmers had no firearms because they had been confiscated by the American military after the war, but they knew how to roust the boar.
German teenage boys, who called American soldiers "G.I.," went to the far side of the woods with pots and pans and beat them to make noise that scared the boar out from under the brush. I could hear the racket, and all of a sudden, I saw a 300-pound boar coming from the underbrush, right at me. It was big, hairy and ugly looking, and when they saw it, the young boys behind me started climbing the trees as fast as they could to get away from it.
I raised the shotgun to fire and the boar broke left. I had five rounds in my shotgun -- one in the chamber, ready to fire, and four in the magazine. These were solid-shot "pumpkin balls" -- almost half the size of a golf ball. I kept on firing at the boar as it ran because I thought I missed it, and I started to chase it. The kids were running after me yelling, "Nein! Nein! G.I.," because they knew if the boar turned to come at me, it could kill me.
But I thought it was dead because it was lying on the ground. I was five feet away -- and it started to get up to come at me. The only reason it wasn't able to take me down quickly was because it was badly wounded. I stepped back to shoot it again, but I didn't realize how many shots I had fired. I clicked the gun to shoot, but I was out of ammunition. Suddenly, I heard a shot from about 100 yards away. It came from the battalion commander, who had a high-powered rifle and high-powered scope. He saw what was happening, and he knew if that boar got to me, it would've ripped me apart. He fired one shot and dropped the boar.
We bagged 20 to 30 boars over two days that Thanksgiving. It made for a special day for us all -- and, yes, we all ate boar meat that day.
--Jack McGreevy, Mattituck