MG James A. Ulio was The Adjutant General of the US Army.
Note that the
|1SG Woodrow Smith's POW ID photo, taken when he
first processed at the German POW camp Stalag XIIA.
|Back of POW ID photo|
|The following 5 items are from Woodrow Smiths
May 23, 1945, letter to his mother, written
after he was liberated from a German POW camp, but before he was shipped back to the States.
|1SG Woodrow H. Smith stayed in the US Army
and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 2.
World War II prisoner finally gets his medals
By Mike Longinow
Woodrow Smith never saw the hissing grenade that bounced into his foxhole on June 6, 1944.
His last memory of that day was of his grabbing his helmet and dropping to the dirt, expecting the shrapnel and concussion.
Smith, a Carrollton resident, woke up an hour later near the Normandy Beach with fellow-soldiers scraping mud out of his eyes, also searing for the helmet he'd tried to ptreserve. By day's end Smith was a prisoner of war and would remain a POW until the surrender by his captors to the Allies in 1945.
Smith is one of an estimated 142,000 U.S. servicemen awarded medals this spring by the Department of Defense for "honorable service while a prisoner of war."
The medal, authorized by Congress, was granted to every U.S. prisoner in an armed conflict after April 5, 1917, but comes only by request with a letter to the military records center of their service branch. No information was available Monday on whether the medals will also go to Vietnam POWs.
The medal shows an American eagle with wings spread over a ring of barbed wire and bayonet points.
Families of deceased POWs are also eligible for the medal, according to the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, though information is still required on where the service was done and where the prisoner was held.
Georgia has an estimated 1,200 former POWs, according to state veterans office estimates.
After Smith's capture, Nazi guards shuttled him from one prison camp to another as Allied attacks pushed in from the edges of German-occupied territories in Europe.
"The Americans strafed everything that moved," Smith recalled, noting the P-38 lightnings and other U.S.-built aircraft that terrorized not only Nazi troops but prisoners.
Smith remembers when the Allies took Normandy and started moving across France the air attacks were fearsome to watch.
"The sky was black with them," Smith said, describing the hundreds of planes that swept over western Europe.
When Russians descended on one of Smith's camp homes, he said he and a prisoner buddy sneaked out to watch the tanks ram the prison gates. Smith said though he hated captivity, he had no quarrel with the safety his captors provided or their advice not to try an escape. He said he knew that in a confused war zone, stray soldiers were more likely to be shot than prisoners confined to a camp.
Torture and abuse were not part of Smith's stay in four different German prisoner of war camps, he said, though food was never plentiful. He said he dropped to about 110 pounds at one time in his captivity.
Smith remembers that he and other prisoners, while being held near Paris, were herded off rail cars onto the streets of France where they were made to march.
Smith said American soldiers with a rough grasp of German understood they were being used as propaganda tools to show the French that the Allies had not slashed deeply into Germany's defenses in Western Europe.
Smith said he was liberated from his captors - after the war's armistice - by a convoy of U.S. soldiers who arrived at his camp only after being scouted out by a war journalist.
Smith, who enlisted at age 21, retired from the Army in 1945, only to re-enlist into active duty the following year. He retired again in 1959, though he stayed in the Army reserves as a warrant officer. He still serves that post.
Smith married Eula Lambert of Carrollton nearly immediately upon returning to the U.S. from Europe In 1945. She had been the first to write him during his imprisonment - followed by his mother, who wrote asking what warm clothes he needed.