Joe Zimbicki grew up in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression his dad was a moonshiner and spent time in prison. As soon as he could, Joe began working to support his nine brothers and sisters. Shipping off to a CCC camp in the northern woods near Williamsport was his salvation--and introduction to Army life.
After being drafted, Joe trained in Texas, California, and then New Jersey, where he shipped out to Europe as part of the infantry. He joined the 90th Division, landing at Utah Beach on D-Day +2. "It took a couple of miles inland before we encountered any resistance," Joe says, but the dangers were everywhere. While digging a foxhole in a French farmer's field, a German machine gunner found Joe in his sights.
After being shot he was sent to recover in London and then sent again to the front, where he was wounded by shrapnel. While recovering he was placed in a military police unit guarding General Patton's plane. "We went everywhere he went," Joe recalls. "I never spoke to him and he never spoke to me, but I saluted him a lot."
This interview is a production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club. It was recorded January 19, 2015 at the Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Interviewer: Todd DePastino.