Frank Hylla Oral History
Frank T. Hylla was born on March 6, 1919 in Holdingford, Minnesota, to Rochus Hylla and Stanislawaa Rudnicki. He joined the military in August 1940 and served in the United States Army Air Corps as a pilot during World War II. He was first lieutenant. Hylla served in the 465th Bomb Group, 781st Bomb Squadron and was a prisoner of war for eleven months in Sagan, Germany. After the war, Hylla owned and operated Cold Spring Television until he retired in 1983. Hylla married Florence Loehlein on October 18, 1941 in Del Mar, California and had five children – Sandra, Theron, Daryl, Judy, and Timothy. He died June 25, 2002 at age 83 and buried in the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls, Minnesota.
Frank T. Hylla joined the service in August 1940 and served in the peacetime army as coast artillery anti-aircraft. Hylla then join the Army Air Corps to become a pilot. He recalled his experiences during flight training and discussed life at base camp in Italy including life at the medical hospital. He reflected on his first bombing mission in May 1944 and his duties as a pilot. Hylla was shot down June 30, 1944 on the way to Blechhammer, Russia. Hylla was captured and was a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III for four months. He talked about life at the camp and said Stalag Luft III did not have terrible conditions. Then they were marched to Stalag VII-A, which had far worse conditions and was also a holding pen for Jews that were to be exterminated at Dachau. Hylla recounted how he was interrogated and beat up by a German officer in Budapest for two hours but did not divulge any information. He said most of the older German prison guards were okay, but the younger ones were far worse. In late April 1945, the American 14th Armored Division liberated Stalag VII-A. Hylla described how hard it was to adjust to civilian life when her returned to the United States after the war. He said his temper changed and was more antagonistic. Hylla experienced nightmares and much worry. Hylla felt some resentment and bitterness toward the men who never served or saw action. His advice to prisoners of war in Iraq was to have faith as they are more prepared to handle life due to the experiences of POWs from WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "Frank Hylla Oral History" (1991). World War II Veterans. 19.