Joseph P. O’Donnell

Rest in Peace, Joe O’Donnell

(Posted: September 24, 2014)

I’m deeply saddened to say that my mentor, my hero and very special friend, Joe O’Donnell, passed away this morning, September 23, 2014.  He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  Much of the content of this web site pertains to Sgt. Joseph P. O’Donnell and his “Shoe Leather Express” books.

May you Rest In Peace, Joe.

Joseph P. O’Donnell, POW 1414 Receives Award of Appreciation

(Posted: February 4, 2013)
Former B-17 Ball Turret Gunner and Prisoner of War, Joseph P. O’Donnell, recently received an Award of Appreciation at the Leadership School at McGuire Air Force Base.  He started two WWII Museums at McGuire and has donated his books to the library and Leadership School.  Joe speaks at the school about 3 times a year.   He has published a series of books  – “The Shoe Leather Express.”  They are detailed accounts of POW experiences in WWII.  Joe was a POW in Stalag Luft IV.  He, and thousands of others, were evacuated from the camp on February 6, 1945, on foot in one of the coldest winters on record.  Their march would last 86 days and would cover approximately 600 miles.  It is difficult to imagine how one could survive the hardships that were endured during this march.  Excerpts from these books can be found on this web site.  The links are: and


(Posted: July 15, 2012)

My friend, Joe O’Donnell, is a poet.  If you’ve read any of the posts regarding his “The Shoe Leather Express” books, you would already be aware of this.  Following is a poem that he sent to me in 2008 with the Subject line:  A Friend . . . . . .


When your trials and tribulations turn to dire despair.

Just look over your shoulder, I’ll be there.

When your storm clouds gather and your weather is not fair.

Just look over your shoulder, I’ll be there.

And when your straight and narrow road has a sudden bend.

Just look beside you, I am your friend.

by Joseph P. ODonnell’

This verse is a treasure!!!  Joe ODonnell has been the greatest of friends.  Whenever I had a question – a question that I was no longer able to ask my Father – Joe was there; always!!  What better person to ask than a former B-17 Ball Turret Gunner and POW.  He always had time for me and he never made me feel that any of my questions were foolish.  It began as Joe being a great source of information but I found that we could talk about everything.  He was more than a mentor; he became “a friend.”   Through our correspondence I grew to know and love his wife, Dot.  I had the good fortune to travel to New Jersey in 2007 to finally meet the two of them.  Joe is “a friend” in every sense of the word.