In 1944 German POWs came to Chicago. The war was ending for Germany and every day armies of German soldiers surrender. Understanding the political situation and the likelihood of not surviving in a Russian POW, tens of thousands made what may have been their only free choice of the war, to whom to surrender.
Fort Sheridan Illinois became the unlikely home of thousands of German POWs. Here, and at 20 sub camps managed by Ft Sheridan, they worked supporting the installations and as laborers for local business and farmers. This brought
something to the U.S. Army it was unaccustomed to, revenue; millions of dollars to the U.S Treasury from POW labor. The POWs themselves were paid for their labor and were able to buy products in the local camp stores, including beer.
Fort Sheridan also had a second mission at that time. With the war over, tens of thousands of American GIs were ending their service. Ft. Sheridan was the last stop for thousands of them each week as the military medically checked them, paid them, and sent them on their way back to civilian life.
It was 1946, the war had ended, and Ft. Sheridan was sending American soldiers back to their families, and POWs were being repatriated to Germany. All was well in the world. Or was it?
This is a story about two soldiers, one of the present and one from the past. It is a tale of honor and corruption,
of intrigue and love. ‘Leave no man behind’ is not just a phase, it is an oath that soldiers live by. ‘Leave no man behind’ means to bring the fallen home, no matter how long it takes.
(CS = Character Source)
(NofF: Name of Friend. Book character may or may not be similar to real life person.)
(Actual: Real name of an actual person in the same or similar role)
(Tribute: An actual person’s name used in the story in a fictitious role. Name used in tribute to
their service or sacrifice)
(Infamy: Name of a historical person or an acquaintance use in recognition of their negative actions)
(Composite: Character has been created from two characters)
Sam Call - Major United States Army
Mary Call – wife of Sam Call
David Lytle – owner of LNMB Investigations, friend of 1SG Woody Kent (CS: NofF)
SGT Jonathan Simon – 162nd Service Unit Ft Sheridan 1941 to 1945 (CS: composite)
1SG Woody R. Kent – friend of David Lytle and First Sergeant of Closure Detachment CS: NofF)
LTC Dana Jackson – friend of Sam Call (CS: composite)
Vicki Jackson – wife of Dana Jackson (CS: NofF)
Laura, Sarah, Kate, Maggie Call – daughters of Sam and Mary Call
Curling – District Attorney of the city of Chicago (CS: Infamy)
Michael Ream – President of RAM Corporation & German POW Roessger (CS: Infamy)
Mr. Maria Ventrilli – wife of SFC Ventrilli
Mrs. Sharp - Supervisor Medical benefits Chicago VA, helps Sam find Mrs. Ventrilli
Mrs. Liz Baker Sergram Holmes Watson – wife of Dr. Baker
Ruth Lettsome – Mrs. Segram’s assistant (CS: NofF)
Carl Sandusky – fictitious name used by Sam call to divert the attention of Ream’s detectives.
Matt Boling – employee of PEI Milwaukee who knew Lt. Dail (CS: NofF)
SSG Marcus Wilson – former honor guard member of Forts Sheridan who buried POWs (CS; NofF)
Ms. Sherya Dykes – receptionist at RAM Corporation (CS; NofF)
Roberta Hacket – news reporter (CS: NofF)
Peterson – Aide to DA Curling
German POWs (note 1)
Heinz Braune 1st POW to die at Ft. Sheridan.
Richard Barthal (note 2)
Heinreich Bauer 8th POW to “die.” Das Kinder Soldaten (Child Soldier) (note 2)
COL Evans – Commander Fort Sheridan
Lt. Phillips – aide to COL Evans
Ms.Kasten - secretary to COL Evans (CS: NofF)
Specialist Carrington – US Army member of Closure Detachment (CS: NofF)
Arthur (no last name) – curator of Fort Sheridan Museum (CS: actual)
Maggie – late wife of Arthur
SSG Frank Ventrilli - murdered soldier and friend of Jonathan Simon (CS: NofF)
Captain John Beakes - Post Commander, Ft. Sheridan, 1944-1946 & conspirator (CS: Infamy)
Captain (Dr.) Baker - medical officer in charge of United States Army Out Processing station Ft Sheridan (1943-1946) & conspirator, (CS: Infamy)
Lt Robert Dale - administration officer Ft. Sheridan 1942-1946 & conspirator, (CS: Infamy)
SSG Borders – guard Ft. Sheridan 1942-1946 & conspirator (CS: Infamy)
LTC Steven Spearstra – (Captain) Dan Jackson’s commander in Europe and investigator in Gwen Stephenson case (CS: Infamy)
Gwen Stephenson – training team visiting US Europe, dies in Europe. (CS: Actual)
Pam Martin - training team visiting US Europe. (CS: Infamy)
LTC Derek Powell - training team visiting US Europe. (CS: Infamy)
George Holmes – training team visiting US Europe. (CS: Infamy)
Dr. Kulick – doctor who examines body of Gwen Stephenson
Major John Mack – friend of Sam Call and PERSOM insider (CS: NofF)
SGT Heit Lang – member of David Lytle’s Special Ops team. (CS: composite)
Alan Anderson – friend of Michael Ream (child), killed in car crash 1975 when Ream moved to Chicago. (CS: NofF)
Note 1 – Nine German POWs are buried in the National Cemetery at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. They all died as a result of accidents while held at the POW camp from
1944 through 1946.
Note 2 – In response to a letter sent to the German Red Cross in 1989, it was discovered that POWs Richard Barthal and Heinreich Bauer had been previously been reported as Missing In Action (MIA). Until the receipt of the letter the families of these two POWs had thought that they had been Killed in Action (KIA) in 1942 in North Africa.
Note 3 – The battle for Monte Casino, Italy fought between The United States and Germany from January 17, 1944 to May 19, 1944, was told by “Max,”
a former soldier of the Wehrmacht who fought at that battle on the side of the German army.
German POW Graves on Fort Sheridan
Burial of First German POW Graves on Fort Sheridan, 1945