POW/MIA Recognition Day is third Friday of September
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the United States on the third Friday of September each year. Though not a federal public holiday in the United States, National POW/MIA Recognition Day is a national observance.
Friday, Sept. 20, is 2019 POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day on which many Americans pause to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were prisoners of war (POW), as well as those who are missing in action (MIA), and their families.
All military installations fly the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag, which symbolizes the nation’s remembrance of those who were imprisoned while serving in conflicts and those who remain missing.
At least 31 members of the U.S. military who were from or had ties to Sabetha and the surrounding communities in Nemaha County, Brown County and southeast Nebraska were POWs of the Germans or Japanese during World War II.
News about these POWs was reported in The Sabetha Herald or other area newspapers during and/or in the years immediately following the war, and/or are listed on their respective county casualty list or Honor Roll. Most were liberated, but at least four men who were prisoners of war of the Japanese died in captivity.
The following former POWS have been featured in The Herald since 2002: Lee Blunier and Dean Fenton, Army, were captured in Italy by the Germans; Robert Griffith, Army Air Forces (AAF), was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese and died in captivity; Howard Halbert, Army, captured in Germany by the Germans; Andrew Leuthold, AAF, captured in Germany by the Germans; Rose Rieper Meier, Army nurse, captured in the Philippines by the Japanese; and Lawrence Sigmund, Army, captured in France by the Germans.
Harry “Kit” Beatty, who was a POW in Germany during World War II, was not from the local area at the time of his service. He moved to Sabetha in September 2014 and was featured in the June 8, 2016, issue of The Herald.
The stories of these former POWs are available to the public in a large wooden-cover book near the first-floor elevator in the Mary Cotton Public Library in Sabetha.
POWs who have not been featured include:
Those who were captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and died in captivity include Miguel Fierro, Army; Edgar Goslin, Navy; Rex Graden, AAF; and Arlie Higgins, Army.
Those who were captured by the Japanese but survived include Donald Binns, Navy, captured on Guam; Army members Orville Edman, Frank Irey, Mark “Sonny” Smith and Albert Stahl, and Robert Thompson, Navy, all captured in the Philippines; Melvin Shellhorn, Marine Corps, captured at Wake Island; and Merle Hobbs, Navy, captured in Dutch East Indies.
Those who were captured by the Germans and survived include the following, with the capture location in parentheses: AAF members Eddie Blocker (Holland), Stanley Burczak (Romania), Samuel Cashman and Arthur Pacha (Germany), William Christian (France), Garold Peck (Yugoslavia) and William Schock (Denmark); and Army members William Bower and Warren Mayer (Germany), Joseph Christman (Belgium), John Kohn (France) and Glenn Woodall (Tunisia).
Further research of area newspapers and casualty lists is an ongoing project, and more names may be added to this list in future years.
Anyone with information about any of these military members who have not been featured in The Herald is asked to contact Patty Locher by email at [email protected]; or by mail (please include your phone number and/or email address) to The Sabetha Herald, P.O. Box 208, Sabetha, KS 66534. If enough information, along with photos, can be gathered on any of those listed, they may be featured in The Herald in future years.