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5/18/04 - Henderson

Former POWs Honored At Flag Ceremony

  It was a day to remember for four east Texas World War II POWs.

  For the past 2 years, their church the First Baptist church in Henderson, has been raising money for 2 flag poles. Tuesday, the POWs saw the result of their efforts.

  The men proudly raised both the American and Christian flags, symbols of the freedoms these men fought for.

  "I was in the air force," says Alford Ellis. Ellis was on a mission flying to Austria when he was shot down.

  "When we hit the ground we were captured immediately from a farmer with a pitch fork and a little boy. One day I remember seeing a group of people out in the field. They lined them up in front of that ditch, shot them in the ditch. That was Jews that they had killed. That's always been on my mind seeing that," says Ellis.

  He says God gave him strength to make it through. "The grace of God. I give him all the credit."

  "I was in the air force," says Allen Webb. Webb was flying over Berlin when he lost an engine. "The anti-aircraft gun with a single plane had no problem blowing us out of the sky. They put us on a March one night. The snow was the worst winter they ever had in Germany. We marched for three days," says Webb.

  "I was in the106 infantry division," says James O'Neil.

  "They didn't have any food to give us we ate a little horse meat and every now and then we'd get a little piece of bread. We just sat around and waited to die, starve to death," says O'Neil. "Several of our guys didn't make it but God wasn't ready for me and he brought me back."

  "I was in the air force," says Richard Carter. Carter was shot down while flying over Paris, France.  "When I got shot down I weighed 185 pounds and when I got back to the United States I weighed just a little over a 100. They'd moved us out of the camp and were just out in the woods sleeping on the ground and when Patton made his sweep he picked us up," says Carter.

  Tuesday they honored the flag that symbolizes freedom.

  "That's what we were fighting for, for that thing to be flying today," says Carter.

  Members at the First Baptist church in Henderson say they decided to add the flags to the front lawn after September 11th.

  They say they wanted to honor the freedom the military is fighting for.

Amy Tatum reporting.

atatum@kltv.com

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