On this Veterans Day, one South Florida veteran is recalling his incredible journey — one that allowed him to survive a Nazi concentration camp to then turn around and go against the Germans in World War II.
“I hated the Germans," 99-year-old Gary Moss said. "I had to do something."
At his northeast Miami-Dade home, Moss reflected back on how his life was turned upside down when he was just 16.
“I was deathly afraid because in our room they let a man die,” Moss said when describing what he saw in the concentration camp near Munich.
One photo he showed NBC 6 was taken about the time the Jewish teen was arrested by the Nazis.
“They took us right to the railroad station and from there we took the train to Dachau," he said.
Dachau is the place where an estimated 41,000 people were killed. One document from the German government shows Moss went there in 1938, and about a month later, his uncle was able to get him released. A family friend of another faith who wasn’t being watched as closely by the Germans got the younger Moss to Palestine.
At, 17 Moss then volunteered for the British Army, with what he saw at Dachau motivating him.
“I didn’t like them—of course not. I saw them beat people to death," he said. "I was deathly afraid of them and on the parade ground, if you didn’t just stand exactly straight the way they wanted it, they beat you."
Some photos show Moss alongside his mates in the British units. He ended up in an infantry squad.
“I couldn’t get enough to where I go against them," he said.
Several years into World War II, Moss was assigned to the Greek islands and a mission that allowed no mistakes.
”We started lifting mines and explosives," he said. "We had to clean up the field from explosives and mines."
Moss says when D-Day was successful, he concluded it was only a matter of time before the Germans would be defeated.
“The German’ invaded Russia. I said this is it. They’re stupid having two fronts now. They are having the-Day in France and Russia in the East, and that’s a little too much for them,” he stated.
In an ironic twist, Moss, the man his wife calls James Bond because of his remarkable journey as a young man, ended up overseeing Germans who had surrendered.
“They were German soldiers. They were under my command,” Moss said. “I just wanted them to do what I ordered them, period.”
The paperwork shows Moss was discharged in 1946, and he ended up in Miami-Dade where he was a CPA for decades and got the chance to see his loved ones who also escaped.
Moss is one of the 31,000 WWII veterans living in the state of Florida. That number is dwindling each day and we want to honor all of them for their service.