[Twelfth Armored Division, Scrapbook 6] Page: 80 of 220
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PROFILE OF A FORMER POW
OF THE 12th ARMORED DIVISION
THE PRISONERS OF WAR of the 12th ARMORED DIVISION
Former POWs Themselves
Compiled and Edited
Fred M. (Mike) Gorman C/134
Service Officer and POW Coordinator
FOR HONORABLE SERVICE WHILE A PRISONER OF WAR
Edward A. Strazdes C/56
PRISONER OF WAR MEDAL
Take a cross section of the men in the 12th Armored Division,
officers and enlisted men, draftees and volunteers, civilians and
career soldiers, regular army and Enlisted Reserve Corps, the well
trained and the recent arrivals, they all had one thing in common.
They put everything they had on the line to preserve the freedom of
the people of the United States of America and its allies.
This was true also of the Prisoner of War, except in his case, the
enemy took it all, ----- but his life ---- and his spirit. He lived
in the fear that his life would yet be taken, with no way to fight
back. In some cases it was. He lost his status as a human being and
was reduced to that of an animal with an unkind master.
He not only existed without food or with very little food, but was
deprived of other very basic needs of life. He lived under very
primitive conditions, going without a bath for weeks, sometimes
months and had to tolerate lice and other vermine sharing his uniform
which he wore 24 hours a day. This was aggravated at time with
diarrhea and other sickness that remained untreated.
His wounds cried for attention.
He was moved from place to place, either by forced march or in box cars
like cattle. The luxury of the box car was having a spot farthest
away from the area used as a latrine. The comfort was having a
buddy rub your feet while you rubbed his to ward off frostbite and
trench foot. It didn't always work because it was cold.?
He shared what little he had. He supported his fellow prisoners when
their spirits or bodies sagged. He "volunteered" to work, to escape
confinement, but his productivity was very low. He escaped to rejoin
his outfit. Many suffered the trauma of recapture. Some made it out.
His thoughts and conversations were about food, mostly. His faith was
heightened, and this and thoughts of home sustained him. He gave
only his name, rank and serial number to the enemy. He was still
fighting the enemy the only way he could. The motto of the American
Ex-Prisoners of War is Non Solum Armis (not by arras alone) and we
It has been mentioned that there may remain some lingering stigma
or shame connected to a POW. Just as many others who have shared
a profound and unique experience, many of us refuse to talk about it
except to another Ex-Pow. THERE SHOULD BE NO GENERAL STIGMA OR
A tank took a direct hit. Three survivors piled out of the smoke-
filled tank. One of them was hit in the leg, shattering his thigh
bone. He covered with his submachine gun so the others could escape.
He fired until his weapon was empty. He could not walk and was
taken a prisoner. WHERE IS THE STIGMA?
A company of infantry was ambushed by well placed burp guns at 6:00
a.m. It was January 16, 1945 and very cold, around 10 and there
was about 15" of snow. More than half were killed in the first five
minutes. The rest were pinned down. Some resistance was made, but
by 6:30 a.m., it was light and to move was to be killed. Still
some moved. About 2 p.m. the Krauts, thinking all were dead, came
out and started looting the bodies. One German was very startled to
find an American alive and almost shot him. Instead he told him to
"Rouse!" The man could not move, he was so stiff from the cold and
his uniform was frozen where he had relieved himself during the
last eight hours.
There were about 35 survivors in the company including the wounded.
The Germans were amazed that there were any. WHERE IS THE SHAME?
What is this former POW like today? The creed of the American Ex-
Pow organization with more than 22,000 members is We exist to help
those who cannot help themselves.
Charles M. Fitts Jr. C/66 probably put it best. "I guess my
greatest satisfaction comes when my eyes still water when I sing the
National Anthem and I can look any man in the eye and know within
myself that in a small way, I gave a great deal for my country,
what it stands for and the rights of my children, theirs and
others to follow. I do not tolerate draft dodgers or any others
who make a mockery of our way of life. This is a priceless posses-
sion and one I am proud to carry." Amen
A tribute must be made to our families. Sometimes as you all know,
the unknown causes great suffering at home. One family was made up
of the 12th AD's soldier's wife and son living with his father and
mother. On Mother's Day, 1945 the wife and mother received
bouquets of flowers and cards from the soldier, arranged for months
before. THAT SAME DAY, THEY RECEIVED THE "MISSING IN ACTION"
We all know the wives of the Hellcats are the GREATEST!! God bless
Finally, let us pay tribute to all of you who were not KIA, WIA
or MIA, but carried the war to its successful conclusion. You are
our liberators. THANK YOU!
Fred M. (Mike) Gorman C/134th
Service Officer and Ex-POW Coordinator, 1985
The Twelfth Armored Division Association
The Eagle, symbol of the United States
and the American spirit, though surrounded
by barbed wire and bayonet points, stands
with pride and dignity, continually on the
alert for the opportunity to sieze hold of
beloved freedom, thus symbolizing the hope
that upholds the spirit of the prisoner
Four blind men went to the zoo and "saw" an
elephant for the first time. The first
blind man encountered the elephant's trunk.
"Oh", he exclaimed, "an elephant is like a
The second blind man had a grasp on the ele-
phant's tail. "Oh, no," he replied. "An
elephant is more like a strong piece of rope."
The third blind man with his arms wrapped
around a huge leg said, "It seems more like a
sturdy tree to me."
The fourth blind man, who had walked up
against the elephant's side observed, "It
strikes me that an elephant is more like a
WORLD WAR II WAS BIGGER THAN AN ELEPHANT!
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United States. Army. 12th Armored Division. [Twelfth Armored Division, Scrapbook 6], book, Date Unknown; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth639084/m1/80/?q=Concentration: accessed August 12, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.