Alfred Corbin of Fairmont is well aware that today is Veterans Day.
“I’m in favor of honoring veterans, but I’m against them honoring people like me and (others individually), and I’ll tell you why — because it took teamwork to win. If you hadn’t been my buddy or helping me, we never would have won.
“I’ve been honored a lot because I helped save that bridge in Holland. I’ve been honored plenty. But if people hadn’t helped me, I couldn’t have done it,” Corbin added.
The “bridge in Holland” played a major role in Corbin’s life. He was a paratrooper in World War II.
“Did you ever see ‘A Bridge Too Far’?” he asked. “I’m the guy who jumped to save that bridge. I jumped to save it so that the Germans couldn’t blow it up.”
“A Bridge Too Far” was a 1977 war film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan. According to Wikipedia, the film tells the story of the failure of Operation Market Garden during World War II, the Allied attempt to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands. The name of the film comes from an unconfirmed comment attributed to British Lt.-Gen. Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, who told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the operations architect, before the operation, “I think we may have gone a bridge too far.” The film featured Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Sean Connery, Liv Ullmann, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford and Maximilian Schell.
Corbin learned it was difficult to hide from the Germans.
“They got to me and I became a prisoner of war for 10 months,” Corbin said. “Our allies couldn’t get to us in time and we had to surrender. We saved the bridge, but we couldn’t save ourselves. We were 119 miles behind the lines. I was a prisoner of the Germans for 10 months. I lost about 45 pounds during that time.”
Corbin showed some compassion toward his captors when it was mentioned that he wasn’t fed very well as a prisoner.
“They didn’t have food themselves,” he explained. “They had potatoes and turnips. Over in Europe, potatoes and turnips are like our corn. They could raise it and feed it to their cattle, but they couldn’t raise corn.
“One ol’ German brought me a piece of bread every day when I was a prisoner,” he recalled. “He would lay it over in a corner and I would see it and would go by and pick it up and eat it. But they didn’t have much to eat themselves.”
Corbin was in the Army just short of two years and was overseas for 22 months of that time.
“But we won the war, and that’s what counts,” he said with a smile.
Corbin is residing in the Heritage Inc. nursing home in Bridgeport, and until the past few weeks, the military veteran had lived in Fairmont all his life.
He lived during the Great Depression and likes to talk about his family. He was one of 12 kids, and seven of the Corbin kids are still alive — “I’m third in line,” he said.
“One of my friends would stop by the house every day and eat dinner with us,” he recalled. “He always said that my mom was the best cook there was. She was a ‘neighborhood mother.’”
His mother also played the piano in church. His father worked in the coal mines and farmed.
“I lived in Williams Crossroads for 88 years,” Corbin said, “except for the time I was in the service.”
Corbin likes to walk, and said the fresh air makes him feel “really good.”
“I would walk out from where I lived and out the Speedway,” he said of his years in Fairmont. “I always walked where people could see me. I didn’t walk in any alleys. You fall in an alley and no one can see you. ... I’ve walked as long as I was able to do so.”
Corbin also likes sharing the story of how he met his wife.
“I met this girl, and in a roundabout way we dated for two years. I told her I couldn’t promise her anything — only a house. So I built her a house and we got married, and I had 53 happy years.”
The Corbins had two children, a boy who now resides in Fairfax, Va., and a daughter who passed away at the age of 48.
Corbin said he enjoyed life as a barber.
“When I was knee high I was planning on being a barber,” he said. “I had a barber’s license for 57 years, and had a three-chair shop for 49 years.”
He isn’t sure how many haircuts he did over those 57 years.
“On a rainy day, you sometimes had none. When the sun was out you had more than you could handle,” he said.
Email John Veasey at email@example.com.
Alfred Corbin of Fairmont is well aware that today is Veterans Day.
- Local News
5-year-old Christian Miller attempting to build normal life after multiple heart surgeries
Christian Miller was born with a broken heart.
He came into the world prematurely, when his mother, Jill, was just 30 weeks pregnant. Her water broke randomly in the middle of the night, most likely from an infection, the doctors told her.
Legislators busy until closing bell ends session
In Charleston, the final day of the legislative session came to a close at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, with the closing bell.
Legislators had until that bell to pass legislation, so that it can be put it before the governor for his signature.
Pothole repair expected to begin soon
Anyone who drives knows the poor condition most of the area’s roads are in.
But the pothole-ridden roadways aren’t just a problem in Marion County. And now the West Virginia Division of Highways is planning a multimillion-dollar effort to fix pothole damage across the state.
Ham, Bacon and Egg Show offers significant rewards
The Marion County Future Farmers of America held its 13th annual Francis Marion Ham, Bacon and Egg Show at the Marion County Technical Center Friday.
Dr. Larry Watson is the advisor for the program and an agricultural education teacher at the Marion County Technical Center.
UPS driver inducted into Circle of Honor
UPS driver Eric Falkenstein has been inducted into the Circle of Honor, a prestige earned by driving accident-free for 25 years.
This year, Falkenstein, of Fairmont, became one of four West Virginia UPS drivers inducted into the Circle of Honor. Falkenstein says he owes his accident-free driving to his training.
Make-A-Wish sending young cerebral palsy patient to Texas theme park
Even through 10 surgeries and countless doctor appointments during his 11 years of life, Malachi Parker has kept a smile on his face.
“When he would wake up after his surgeries, he would still be smiling,” Sue Godfrey, Malachi’s aunt, said.
‘Pretty exciting day’ coming at Legislature
The first session of the eighty-first West Virginia Legislature is finally winding down.
Legislators will be meeting for the final day of the regular session Saturday. The session will run until late into the night, with the session finally ending at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
State rocket teams in national competition
West Virginia students are currently working on rockets that could potentially take them into the top 100 teams across America as part of the 2014 Team America Rocketry Challenge.
Seven hundred teams in 48 states, Washington, D.C.. and the Virgin Islands, including teams from Morgantown, Fairmont, Martinsburg, Glenville, Chapmanville, Inwood, Weston, Farmington and Paw Paw, must build a model rocket that can travel 825 feet in the air and come back down again in 48-50 seconds.
Grant application for Tulip Lane approved by West Virginia Development Office
Improvements are on the way for a heavily traveled road in Pleasant Valley.
During Wednesday’s Marion County Commission meeting, Charlie Reese, director of the Marion County Development Authority, told commissioners the grant application for $150,000 for the Industrial Park Access Road Fund has been approved by the West Virginia Development Office.
Colfax closer to better water, sewer system
Residents in the Colfax area are one step closer to a better water and sewer system.
During a public hearing with the Marion County Commission on Wednesday, commissioners made a motion to sponsor the Colfax Public Service District as it applies for a Small Cities Block Grant.
- More Local News Headlines
- 5-year-old Christian Miller attempting to build normal life after multiple heart surgeries