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Salute honors POWs



Published: Sat, September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Eight men were honored for their sacrifices in World War II.

By JEANNE STARMACK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- A special fraternity got together at the grandstand at the Canfield Fair for a late-morning tribute.

Eight former World War II prisoners of war were honored Saturday during a Salute to Veterans.

The men, members of American Ex-Prisoners of War chapters 9 and 13, gathered with one another and family members who'd come to see them honored.

They were:

Ike Spack of Salem, who was captured in September 1944 and spent seven months in captivity in Germany.

Norm Swaney of Boardman, who spent 110 days in Germany after being captured at the Battle of the Bulge.

Homer Marsh of Austintown, who spent 35 days in 1945 on a forced march into Austria to be turned over to German police.

Dominic Staffrey of Canfield, who spent two months in Germany in 1945.

Bob Fink of Austintown, who was captured in June 1945 by the Japanese and spent three months in captivity near Tokyo.

Jack McCoy of Columbiana, who spent 18 months in captivity after being sent from Italy in February 1943 to a work camp in northern Poland.

Dan King of Lordstown, who spent two months in 1945 as a captive of the Germans.

Charles Myers of Austintown, who was captured Dec. 17, 1944, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, and spent 110 days in Germany.

Recalling their ordeal

As the men waited under the grandstand for the ceremony to begin, some reminisced about their time in captivity. They weren't mistreated, some said; rather, they just weren't treated well.

"They didn't make us work," said Army veteran Myers, who spent time in Stalag 9A, northeast of Frankfurt. "They just didn't feed us. They didn't have it to feed us."

"They used to boil grass and give them grass soup," said his daughter, Patty Myers.

Myers said he had to sleep on a mattress with only a few pieces of straw inside a cover, and it was "lousy with bedbugs."

King said he was taken prisoner after he had to bail out of a B-51 fighter he'd piloted over Germany. He spent two months at Stalag 1 in Barth on the Baltic Sea, where he lost 40 pounds consuming dried vegetables and some Red Cross rations.

McCoy recalled that a pound of potatoes and a loaf of black bread a day fed about 20 men at his work camp in Poland. They worked 12 hours a day cutting timber. He had friends there who did not live; some never survived the ride to the camp in boxcars, where they were packed in, standing room only. As for the others: "The Germans worked them till they dropped."

Housed in horse stalls

Three servings of rice a day was what the Japanese fed Army Air Forces veteran Fink and his fellow inmates, who were kept in horse stalls in the barns at the imperial palace near Tokyo. He said 16 men shared one stall.

In three months, Fink dropped from 180 to 127 pounds. "I could sympathize with them [the Japanese]," he said. "They weren't eating much themselves."

After the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, their captors moved Fink and his fellow prisoners to an island in Tokyo Bay, where they abandoned them. The prisoners were picked up by Americans, who took them to a hospital ship. Because he was in such bad shape, Fink was immediately flown back to the United States.

The Salute to Veterans lauded each branch of the American military. It was a cooperative effort of the Canfield Harness Horsemen's Association, the Mahoning Veterans Memorial, and Bev Fisher, fair manager.




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