EMPORIA, KS—WWII fighter pilot Herman Porter, 87, has been appealing to the federal government since 1948 for the right to kill one last German without legal repercussions. On Monday, the decorated soldier was granted his wish by the Senate Subcommittee on Defense Relations.
"This is the happiest day of my life," Porter said. "This is one Jerry who isn't getting away."
The killing will take place on September 20 in Porter's hometown of Emporia, as he is wheelchair-bound with Multiple Sclerosis and has been advised by his physician not to travel or over-exert himself.
Porter, who served from 1942-45 in the Air Force's legendary 53rd Tiger Squadron in the European theater, registered 11 kills during the war, but missed out on the fall of Berlin and the subsequent German surrender. Porter's plane was shot down over Frankfurt, and, though he was able to kill numerous German soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, he was injured during his flight to Allied lines. For more than 50 years, Porter has longed for the opportunity to kill another German, putting an exclamation point on what he considers to be the greatest war in U.S. history.
"It won't take much," Porter said. "Just one thrust of my bayonet."
According to subcommittee chair U.S. Sen. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), the German selected for killing was initially supposed to be an actual German citizen, but fear of harming relations between the two countries "made such an option impossible." It was then decided that a randomly selected American citizen of German descent would serve as a replacement.
Jonathan Schmidt, a 32-year-old machine-tool operator from Milwaukee, was chosen to serve as the kill. While not a full-blooded German, Schmidt is the grandson of immigrants from Germany and retains the 25 percent German blood minimum to quality him for killing under federal law.
Schmidt, who attempted to flee the U.S. upon discovering his fate, was unavailable for comment, though he issued a release stating that his German ancestors were leaders in the resistance movement and helped shelter 250 Jewish families during the war's darkest hours.
But Schmidt's pleas were for naught: Captured by federal agents, Schmidt was taken to Emporia Tuesday for a practice run for the September 20 killing. After being given an authentic early-1940s-issue bayonet and WWII helmet courtesy of the U.S. Army, Porter was wheeled up to face Schmidt.
In front of a hushed audience of friends, relatives and neighbors, Porter said, "Die, you damned Jerry scum!" and feebly moved his bayonet toward Schmidt. The German-American struggled with the agents, who held him in place and tried to force him onto the weapon. Schmidt was not killed, but he did sustain a minor abrasion on his left knee.
Porter, overcome by heat exhaustion, was rushed to an area hospital. He will face Schmidt again upon his expected recovery.