My Friend Russ Is Alive Today Because of a Drunk Driver in WWII

In an earlier post, I explained how I wouldn’t be here today if not for the death of my great-grandfather’s wife. My good friend Russ Blixt has a similar story, which I am privileged to share below.

Russ Blixt

As a supply officer in WWII, my dad was provided with his own jeep and a driver. He oversaw twenty trucks that brought ammunition, food or gasoline to the front lines and brought back either wounded soldiers or prisoners of war.

In my early twenties, I accompanied my dad to one of his 305th Tank Battalion reunions, which was essentially a chance for them to sit around, get drunk and tell war stories. I cornered a couple of his buddies and asked, “What do you remember about my dad?” They said, “Oh, Klink?” I said, “What? His nickname is Klink?” They said, “Yeah, your old man was always carrying bottles in his duffel bag.” I came to find out that my dad would be sent into bombed-out towns to secure everything right after the tanks had gone in but before the infantry arrived. He would go into restaurants and homes and confiscate the best liquor he could find. He developed a fond taste for cognac and nice brandies and who knows what else. Every night, he’d go around to his men and pour them each an ounce or two of liquor in their mess kit cup.

On one occasion, he was out with his jeep and Louie, an eighteen-year-old buck private from the Bronx. My dad had pulled some strings with the colonel and got this kid to be his driver. He chose Louie because the kid was smart, good on his feet, good with a weapon and had no compunction about killing people. They had driven into a town in Germany and were searching in the basements of restaurants for expensive bottles of liquor to bring back for the guys. Louie was apparently sampling the wares a bit too much and got too drunk to drive, so my dad propped him up in the passenger seat and started driving his own jeep back to where they were bivouacked for the night. Out of nowhere, boom, a sniper shot Louie in the head, thinking that he was the officer because he was in the passenger seat.

I didn’t hear about Louie until I was in high school. The only time my dad would tell me any stories about the war would be when I’d get home late from a date—it would be after midnight, and he’d be downstairs watching TV, smoking a cigar and drinking beer. He had a very hard time talking about that incident; he’d break into tears every time. I still have Louie’s gun; my dad had taken it from his body and sent it home from the war. I often think about this story and how I wouldn’t be here today if Louie hadn’t gotten drunk. It’s just weird how life works sometimes.

Russ Blixt's family (l-r): Minerva, Russ, Marcia, Russell, Sr.


Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?

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