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Minn. WWII Veteran Shares His Incredible Survival Story

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
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FARMINGTON (WCCO) — Veterans Day is still more than a week away, but one Minnesota town is already honoring our service men and women.

In a ceremony Thursday evening, the City of Farmington paid tribute to World War II veterans, including an Eagan man with an incredible story.

In 1944, Dick Carroll was in his early 20s flying bombing missions for the Army. On July 2 of that year, his plane took fire and he was forced to bail out near Budapest.

“Within two minutes after landing, I got out of my chute. Then, I was shot,” said Carroll, now 91.

The bullet went through his right lung and lodged in his heart. The gunshot didn’t take him down, but seconds later, Hungarian farmers took hold of Carroll. One of them walked behind the Rosemount native and hit him in back of the head with a shovel, knocking him unconscious.

“It may have saved my life that he did that, because if I had to walk, I might have died from the exertion,” said Carroll.

Three days later, Carroll was in military headquarters in Hungary, had a fever of 104.7 degrees and his heart rate was spiking.

“The priest came and gave me the last rites of the church and they expected me to die that evening,” recalled Carroll.

The fever held for five days. With the bullet still in his heart, the only medical attention Carroll received were cold blankets wrapped around him.

“Every time I’d pass out, but when I came to, it was so wonderful. I felt so much cooler,” said Carroll.

The fever broke, but Carroll spent the next 11 months as a prisoner of war until his captors finally surrendered and the young Lieutenant was released.

His parents had received notice that he’d been shot in the heart months ago, and took that to mean their son was dead. Now was his chance to reach out.

“Dad and mother received 31 postcards — with their 1 and 2 cent stamps back then — announcing that their son Richard Carroll was at Stalag Luft 1, Germany and that he was well and so forth. So, that was a wonderful Christmas gift for my dad and mother,” said Carroll.

Carroll said he can’t feel the bullet that’s still in his heart today and, amazingly, it’s not doing him any harm.

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