Nonfiction Book Award Status: GOLD
Not everyone in the U.S. military was rooting for America.
In 1942, in its rush to assemble a force of seven million to take on the Axis powers, the Army discovered it had inducted some seemingly iffy patriots. They had FBI files, German-sounding names, records as disruptive college students, traveled to Europe pre-war, or did nothing at all. Suspicion was enough.
Unsure of what to do with them, the Army put them all into a misfit company. They were the 620th Engineer General Service Company.
They were stripped of their guns, humiliated, abused, and stashed away in a remote camp in Colorado. Their officers were cruel and their punishments harsh. Members of the Army’s storied 10th Mountain Division, training nearby, occasionally dropped by to beat them up.
They mourned. They stewed. They requested transfers and appealed to their parents, politicians, and newspaper columnists. Nothing worked. Seething, they considered disobedience, desertion and, ultimately, an ambitious plan to break into the armory one midnight, take over the camp, and become guerillas to blow up transportation hubs and sabotage the country’s war effort.
That’s when Dale Maple and two German POWs deserted the camp. Their plans were outrageous: cross the Atlantic, get to wartime Germany, and persuade the Nazi government to supply the money and the materials they needed to ignite their guerilla war back on the U.S. soil.
That’s when their fates took an only-in-America turn.
This is a true story.
William Sonn is a Chicago native who migrated to Denver for grad school and, in taking his first breath upon stepping out of the car, realized there was in fact life without humidity. He’s lived there ever since.
In the ensuing years, he authored two daughters and two non-fiction books, “Something Like Treason: Disloyal U.S. Soldiers and the Plot to Bring World War II Home,” (Sunbury Press, 2021) and “Paradigms Lost: the life and deaths of the printed word” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).
A former freelance journalist, Bill’s work has appeared in Outside/Mariah, Chicago magazine, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, Boston Globe, Bild, Westword, Seybold Report, Medium, and, among many others, Becker’s Hospital Report. He has also written for many business, energy, graphic arts, financial services, and health care publications and newsfeeds.