Prisoners Of War Honored In Muskogee

Saturday, April 5th 2014, 7:56 pm
By: News On 6

Like many during World War II, when Elk City native Jack Warner turned 18, he deployed.

Captured in Corregidor during the Battle of Bataan, the Purple Heart recipient is one of the dozen Prisoners of War honored on Saturday at Muskogee's VA hospital.

Warner, or "Shorty" as his fellow Marines call him, can talk you through every battle.

"All we could account for was four guys out of 87," Warner said.

But it takes less words for him to describe his 42 months and four days as Prisoner of War.

"Living hell," he said.

He remembers the Japanese, his captors, doing "tinko," a roll call in which POWs had to be shaved, clean and dressed.

"If you wasn't up to snuff, they'd work you over, I mean, with whatever they had handy," he said.

For more than a thousand day, he slept on boards and a rice mat.

His space -- infested with fleas -- lice and mosquitoes.

He stayed determined, despite the desolation.

"I said that there had to be one to come back and tell the story," Warner said.

Their story is important to so many, like Kathy Belanger, the daughter of a World War II vet.

"Thrown into a war, I'm barely a teen," Belanger said. "Oh, baby girl, the things I've seen."

James Floyd made a career out of serving these heroes at Muskogee's VA hospital.

"We really love these veterans and really care about them and their welfare, their health, their well-being," Floyd said.

Someday, when POWs like Warner talk no more, Warner hopes people like Kathy and James keep their stories alive.

Warner now speaks to students in auditoriums, educating anyone that will listen on what these POWs went through and what soldiers still go through to preserve our freedom today.