In this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, you’ll hear from survivors. People who have lived though illness, genocide, or war—things so rare or monumental that it is difficult for the average person to comprehend what they have endured.

TullMarkerHusband and wife Lucinda Marker and John Tull (pictured at left) survived the bubonic plague. You might expect that they lived in a medieval village in the 1300s, but they didn’t. Lucinda and John were living in New Mexico in 2002 when they decided to go on a vacation to New York City. While there, they both felt ill and went to a hospital believing they had the flu. Shockingly, they were told that—having been bitten by fleas prior to taking their trip—they had the first two cases of the plague in New York City in over a hundred years.

Some survivors are burdened with such horrible memories that they want to keep them locked away—especially from those they love. fisher_lgIn our second story, Debbie Fisher (pictured at left) talks about her father, Oscar, and the memories he refused to share of his time in the infamous Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

Oscar was a Holocaust survivor and throughout Debbie’s life, he told his daughter a sanitized version of what his experiences were during World War II. It was only in his last days, with pushing from his daughter, that he grudgingly opened up to her.

Our last story comes from the sole survivor of a Marine squad in Iraq. Lance Corporal Travis Williams (pictured at left) WilliamsT_lg_NPRand his 11 fellow Marines (pictured above) were on a mission in Barwana, Iraq, in August 2005, when they were hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). Everyone except Travis was killed in the blast.

Following the tragedy, Travis took responsibility for gathering up his squad mates belongings and making sure they were all sent back home. Years later, at his home in Montana, he came to StoryCorps to recorded his memories of that day and discuss how it continues to haunt him.


Click here to watch “1st Squad, 3rd Platoon,” an animation of Travis Williams’ story.

 Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Mississippi Turn-Around” and “I’ll Become Everything” by Nick Jaina
“5:00 AM” by Peter Rudenko
“I Want to See You Fly” by Christopher Bowen
“In A Moment” by Lee Rosevere