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POW Medal Awarded 62 Years Later|
Posted on November 30, 2006
Danny "Greasy" Belcher, Executive Director
Task Force Omega of KY Inc.
Vietnam Infantry Sgt. 68-69
"D" Troop 7th Sqdn. 1st Air Cav
Thank you so much Senator Wayne Allard and everyone who worked on this.
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 8:55
Grand Junction Sentinel Article
WWII vet awarded his POW medal 62 years later
By BEVERLY CORBELL The Daily Sentinel
Thursday, November 30, 2006
MONTROSE — As it did Wednesday in Montrose, snow fell thick and deep when Pfc. Ted Carder’s tank unit was overrun by the enemy during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
The Allies won the bloody battle that lasted for more than a month, but Carder and other survivors of the U.S. Army’s 7th Armored Division, Company B, 23rd Army were taken prisoner by the Germans.
For days, Carder and the others were forced to march through deep snow in bitter cold to a POW camp at Gerolstein, Germany, after being captured near St. Vith, Belgium, on Dec. 22, 1944. He was rescued by advancing U.S. Army soldiers near Limburg, Germany, on March 28, 1945.
Shortly after he was rescued, while recuperating at a hospital in England, Carder was awarded the Purple Heart and the Infantry Combat Medal.
He got his third medal Wednesday, 62 years after being taken prisoner, when he was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal by state Rep. Ray Rose at the Montrose Library.
It wasn’t an oversight that kept Carder from getting the medal sooner: The medal wasn’t instituted by Congress until 1985, and Carder didn’t know it existed.
Carder, 82, said he only learned about the award earlier this year when he read in a newspaper about how some soldiers returning from Iraq received the Prisoner of War Medal.
Carder, a California native who has lived in Montrose since 1986, decided to apply for the medal and spoke to representatives of Disabled American Veterans, of which he is a member. He was told to contact Rose because he had “more influence and clout” in getting the medal issued.
Carder said he wrote to Rose in July, detailing his service during the war. Rose’s office then enlisted the help of U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard.
That helped unwind some red tape, so his medal was given within months of applying for it, which was “fairly quick,” said Heather Gierhart, Allard’s area representative, who was at the ceremony.
It’s common practice for veterans to go to their elected representatives to help them get through the bureaucracy they may encounter, and that’s her main job at Allard’s office, Gierhart said.
“They can request (a service medal) on their own, but it is a little bit quicker if they go through us,” she said. “We have federal liaisons whose job is completing our requests so they don’t have to deal with everyone in the public making the same requests. The liaisons are responsible to us, so they’re more likely to get the request completed.”
Carder stayed at the Gerolstein POW camp until Feb. 5, 1945. Conditions were cold and grim for the prisoners, and they were forced to build railroads at night so they wouldn’t be spotted. As a result, Carder got frostbite and lost several toes and part of a finger.
Food was scarce, he said, but his treatment by the Germans was “not that bad” in spite of a continual diet of horse soup, which was also the fare of the German soldiers.
“Our captors were eating on one end of the horse, and we were eating on the other end,” he quipped.
After his stay in Gerolstein, Carder and other POWs who were unable to march were loaded onto a train and taken to Stammlager XIIA POW camp in Limburg, Germany. On the way, they were strafed by the U.S. Air Force, he said, but were not hit.
More than a month later, Carder and other POWs were loaded onto a train and were not told where they were going.
It was March of 1945, and the Allies were closing in, he said.
The German soldiers must have known the end was near because they eventually abandoned the train, leaving in groups each time the train went through a tunnel, Carder said.
Then the U.S. Army found them, and that was the end of his being a prisoner, he said.
At the time of his rescue, he weighed 105 pounds, which at 5 feet 10 inches tall made him a walking skeleton, Carder said. He still bears the frostbite scars from being a POW, but time has healed his mental wounds, and he’s quick to make a joke.
“I wouldn’t have been captured if I’d had all of you there with me,” he said to a standing ovation after receiving his award.
Beverly Corbell can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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