A Former POW Cherishes Freedom

Herald says, “I was drafted on September 15, 1941.” It wasn’t long before Herald found himself in the middle of combat with the 1st Armored Division in North Africa. During a battle, Herald and his squad were separated for a couple of weeks. They were captured and interrogated by the Germans and then flown in a German aircraft from North Africa to Italy. From there the American prisoners were transported by boxcar to a German prison camp, Stalag IIB, at Hammerstein, Germany. Toward the end of his captivity, he and fellow prisoners had to walk 300 miles under guard until, at last, they were liberated by the Allied troops on May 2, 1945.

Herald, soon to be 88 years old, is a frequent visitor at area elementary schools to tell about his prisoner of war experience. “I was once asked by a second- or third-grader if I was scared when I was a prisoner. I tried to be honest with him because I knew at that age he would not forget my answer. “Yes, I was scared. Really scared. I remember the first night as a prisoner. People talk about being lonely. They don’t know what loneliness is in a situation like that. The night was so dark you couldn’t see your hand. It was the loneliest night in my life. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I even cried I was so lonely. I was even mad at myself for getting captured. I felt I had betrayed my country.”

For Herald, living as a POW made him realize how much he loves his country. He proudly declares, “I know what freedom is because I did not have it for 27 months when I was a prisoner. I was on the other side. I know. I can’t imagine living in a country where you can’t do what you please, but we are free as a bird. When I see the flag go by in a parade, it sends chills right down my body. It means so much to me.”

Interview: September 10, 2006