Prisoner of War Exhibit

The prisoner of war experience, while terrible and difficult to recount, is an important part of the 390th Bombardment Group’s story.  Truly it is impossible for us to fathom what life would have been like in that time period – the endless waiting for news, the constant hunger as rations were depleted, the fear of violence from German guards – but we want all visitors to gain an idea of the realities of daily camp life.  We hope this exhibit ultimately drives home the level of sacrifice made by the 390th’s airmen and reminds us all to be grateful for what we have.

This exhibit is a tribute to the National League of POW/MIA Families and the United States Air Force Academy Library.

Exhibit Highlights

The POW exhibit was designed purposefully to take the visitor through a journey similar to what airmen experienced.  The initial panels include narratives about being captured and interrogated by German guards.  The next panel, “Waiting on Winning” discusses daily life in the camps, which involved a great deal of uncertainty and seemingly endless waiting.  The final panels discuss the German abandonment of the camps that was followed by Allied liberation.

STAMMLAGER Stalag is a contraction of the German word Stammlager, which literally translates to “base camp” or “main camp.”

AS THEY LIVED IT The exhibit was designed by three 390th veterans who had each been prisoners of war: Hank Plume, co-pilot of Crew 28 for 15 missions, Dick Sawyer, engineer and top turret gunner of Crew 2 for 27 missions, and Bill Pace, ball turret gunner of Crew 72 for 12 missions.

MORE POW THAN KIA The 390th Bombardment Group and the Eighth Army Air Force share a unique attribute: each had more men taken prisoner of war than killed in action. It is important to remember, though, that not all prisoners of war returned home as many succumbed to injuries, starvation and exposure.
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