When combat ceased in Germany following World War II, Ferrel Bybee of the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division was assigned occupation duties, the last of these in Salzburg, Austria, in July and August of 1945.
While attending Church services in Salzburg, Brother Bybee met Paul G. Guildner, his wife, Ingeborg, and their baby, Wolfgang. Brother Guildner, who had lost one arm fighting for the German army on the Russian front, was awaiting discharge.
"When division headquarters needed personnel for special work, [my battalion] usually volunteered my services," said Brother Bybee, now of Morningside [Utah] 5th Branch, St. George Utah Morningside Stake. "These work assignments were discharging German soldiers."
Soldiers from East Germany who had fought the Russians feared that upon discharge they would be sent to Siberia instead of East Germany. One day while discharging German soldiers, Brother Bybee saw a familiar face.
"It is difficult to understand how I was able to recognize Paul Guildner in the large fenced compound of unprocessed soldiers," said Brother Bybee. "I am sure now that I was led by the Spirit. . . I felt I must do something to help him."
Brother Bybee summoned the German soldier to the fence, where he took away his army records. Then he told an American officer that he recognized a soldier inside who needed to get home to his wife and baby. Brother Guildner was soon discharged and sent home.
Many years later in 1982, Brother Bybee and his wife, Willa, served as missionaries in the Bern Switzerland Temple. One Thursday, "to my great surprise, Brother Guildner called me by name. What a happy reunion," said Brother Bybee. "He had waited many years to thank me in person."
Brother Guildner has served as patriarch of the Munich Germany Stake for many years, and he and his wife have two sons, both of whom served as bishops.
Robert C. Freeman, BYU assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine
Another in a series of "Temple Moments."
Illustration by John Clark.