Former Prisoners of War and families of Servicemen still listed as 'Missing in Action' were recognized during an annual ceremony at Lexington's VA Medical Center on Leestown Road Friday morning.
Among the honored former Prisoners of War was Clyde Westmoreland, 94, of Louisville.
He was in the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1945, he was captured by the Germans in France. He spent the next six months in a prison camp.
When asked what his overriding memory was of his time as a prisoner of war he said hunger. "They starved us to death," Westmoreland said.
He said when he was freed by Russian allies near the end of the war, he weighed just 90-pounds.
There are things he still won't talk about. "I don't want to tell you the whole story, but we had faith in God," said Westmoreland.
Despite what he endured, Westmoreland is not bitter or angry and said he has no regrets.
"I was proud to do it. I'd do it again at age 94. I'd try to do it again. Need I say more?"
Flo Crawford's husband, Owen, was in the U.S. Air Force in World War II. He was a tailgunner who was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1944.
During the bitter cold of winter, Owen Crawford was forced to march everyday in the unforgiving conditions for three straight months. It was all day, every day.
He suffered permanent damage to his feet from frostbite and dealt with other health problems the rest of his life due to the treatment he received as a POW.
He was a POW for a total of ten months. Even though he has passed away, Flo Crawford still comes to the POW/MIA Recognition ceremony every year to honor her late husband. She still wears his Purple Heart on a necklace.
The day left her at a loss for words. "It's hard to describe. It's hard to be here without him, but he is always in my heart and on my mind, said Crawford.
There were also a number of families of Servicemen who are still classified as MIA. They were far from alone.
Here are the latest MIA statistics:
- World War II: 73,689
- Korea: 7,946
- Vietnam: 1,055
- Cold War: 126
- Gulf War: 6
There have been more than 142,000 American service men and women captured and interned from World War I through the Gulf War.
The featured speaker was Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Dotson. He is currently the Director at the Veterans Resource Center at the University of Kentucky.