Pete Edris Left Quite a Legacy

November 3, 2016

peteWarren Peter “Pete” Edris, ex-WWII POW and retired American Airlines captain, died on October 29. He was 95 years old. Edris was born in Mountain Lakes, N.J., and graduated from what was then called Oak Ridge Military Institute. He married Doris Grey Cooke of Kernersville on June 30, 1945. She died in 1988.
Edris was a member of Kernersville Moravian Church and the Greater Greensboro Chapter of the American Ex-POWs.
His memoir, “Dying For Another Day,” chronicles the remarkable story of an airman from the “Greatest Generation.”
Edris served in the 306th Bomb Group, 369th Bomb Squad, which became the basis of the novel and movie, “Twelve O’clock High.”
On March 8, 1943, the B-17 that First Lieutenant Edris was co-piloting was blown out of the sky over Rennes, France by German FW-190 fighter planes.
Edris parachuted to safety. The pilot was killed.
French farmers harbored Edris for a while, but his luck ran out in a Paris apartment on May 15, 1943 when he was arrested by the Gestapo.
They sent him to Fresnes Prison, just south of Paris, where he spent 77 days in solitary confinement, eating potato soup often filled with bugs and worms. He had no soap and no toothbrush.
His next stop was Stalag Luft III, about 100 miles southeast of Berlin. True happenings at Stalag Luft III inspired the movie, “The Great Escape.”
What Edris didn’t know during his incarcerations was what his mother was being told back in the States via telegrams. On March 15, 1943, she was notified that her son had been reported missing in action. On July 11, 1943, she was told he was no longer missing but had been killed in action. On September 11, 1943, she was notified that her son had not been killed, but was a prisoner of the German government.
His next stop was Stalag Luft VIIA in Moosburg, crammed with 130,000 POWs of all nationalities. In his memoir, Edris described it as, “A hellhole if there ever was one. It was a rat nest of tiny compounds separated by barbed wire fences that separated old, rundown barracks.”
General George Patton’s 3rd Army liberated Stalag Luft VIIA on April 29, 1945. Edris would be going home soon, and marrying the love of his life.
In early June, Doris Cooke’s train ride from Greensboro to New York’s Penn Station was way behind schedule.
“I was really getting jittery,” said Edris in his memoir. “Then, all of a sudden, there she was, walking across the terminal. She was glowing like an angel. She looked absolutely gorgeous. We ran full-speed into each other’s arms. I picked her off the floor and we went around and around. We were both crying like babies.”
“I love, you, I love you, I love you,” she said. “Hold me forever, darling. Don’t ever let me go.”

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