About Mark B. Calnon
Mark Brooks Calnon, Sr. was born in Meridian, Idaho on August 21, 1918 and was raised on the family farm. After graduating from Meridian High School he moved to Moscow to study agriculture at the University of Idaho. He graduated from college in 1940. In an interview conducted with Mark for this project he states, “Well it wasn’t long before I went into the Army. The draft was on, and my number was about to come up, so I volunteered. I knew I didn’t want to pack a rifle and I thought, well if I volunteered I might have a little choice of what I did.” He chose to fly.
On October 9, 1943 his B-17 was shot down and he survived the bailout only to be taken prisoner by the Germans. He was interned at Stalag Luft III where he was witness to one of the most notorious escapes called “The Great Escape.” As the war progressed and Germans lost ground the officer airmen held in Stalag Luft III were transferred to Stalag VII-A where conditions worsened. American forces liberated Stalag VII-A on April 29, 1945. After his military service Calnon married, had two children, and worked as an agriculture extension agent for UI in Ada county managing 4H programs until the 1970s. He resided at the family farm in Meridian, Idaho until his death in May of 2015.
The objective of this collection is to preserve and share his story, giving researchers and audiences a deeper understanding of the historical and sociological impact of war and military service, particularly the experiences of an average World War II prisoner of war. Calnon’s oral history serves as a key non-celebrity primary source for historians and people studying World War II.
A documentary film about Lt. Calnon’s experiences will also be available here soon.
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