The story of the American soldier, who landed in Normandy with his trumpet, is both depressing and hopeful. When he went out to keep watch one night, his captain said: “Don’t play tonight. There’s a sniper out there.” He played anyway and what happened then is a story that only music can write…
A young man and his instrument
Jack Leroy Tueller was just an ordinary young man. His mother died at the age of 29; his father was an alcoholic. With his siblings he grew up with an aunt who gave him a trumpet for his 13th birthday. At a performance with a 22-piece dance band at the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone Park, he meets Louis Armstrong and gets some nice advice from him. After high school he begins to study music, but then applies to the Army to become a pilot. He starts his pilot training at the age of 21. And suddenly he’s in the middle of World War II.
Trumpet and parachute always with you
Operation Overlord – the landing of the Allies in Normandy – will be his first mission. Jack Leroy Tueller flies over 100 missions with a P-47 Thunderbolt in Normandy in the fight against the Germans. On land and in the air he always has his unusual companion: his trumpet. He carries it in a linen bag attached to his parachute.
About a week after D-Day in June 1944, his squadron is sent out to attack a German tank division. As the pilots approach, they see that French women and children are attached to the tanks like shields. First, the attack is aborted. Back at base, the commander orders the tanks to fire anyway.
The trumpet was his best friend
Tueller would never let go of this experience. He was haunted by the images of what his 50-caliber machine guns had done to the civilians. Every night he played “Danny Boy”, “Lili Marleen” and other songs on his trumpet for his comrades – and also for himself. For him it was a ray of light, a way of coping with stress and trauma. A week later he had an amazingly moving experience.
War called off
He was ordered to do the night’s watch; warned beforehand by the captain not to play the trumpet “There’s an enemy sniper out there”. But Jack thought: “He’s as lonely and scared as I am – I’ll play him a song. And he played his trumpet. The next morning, a prisoner of war was taken to the camp. It quickly became clear that the sniper had seen Jack, but had not pulled the trigger. He asked, “Who was the trumpet player who played Lili Marleen last night? When I heard that song, the war was over for me – I couldn’t use my rifle anymore.”
Jack Leroy Tueller tells us about the power of music in the short video below, of what it can really do. What sounds like a fairy tale is a true story…
D-Day – the Allies liberate Europe
June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the end of the Second World War with the landing of the Allies in Normandy. Among them was the American pilot Jack. In his life of 95 years, the “soldier with the trumpet” repeatedly told the fascinating story of the connecting power of music. He died in Utah on August 15, 2016. Lili Marleen is still played on many trumpets around the world.