East Texas Veteran Receives Purple Heart 55 Years Later - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/22/07-Athens

East Texas Veteran Receives Purple Heart 55 Years Later

It was a surprise ceremony, honoring Sergeant Frank Hall, a Korean War veteran.

"I can't imagine ever being more surprised," said Hall.  After more than 50 years he received one of the military's most respected medals, the Purple Heart.  The U.S. Air Force also presented Hall with a Prisoner Of War medal, for the courage and honor he maintained for eleven months in a North Korean camp.

"I'll never be able to justify in my mind, having been shot down and captured, to deserve any kind of medal," said Hall.  On November 8th, 1952, Hall's B-29 was shot down over Korea and he was taken prisoner.

"The first six weeks I was in solitary confinement in an interrogation camp, and that's when I lived in a hole in the ground," said Hall.  Just 19-years-old at the time, Hall said he felt God protecting him through that dark period and it was his faith that kept him going.

"That was all I needed to maintain my spirit and my enthusiasm for life," said Hall. 

"You have to have someone to be able to talk to and believe in to keep you going day to day," said Colonel Kevin E. Pottinger, U.S. Air Force.  "Especially in those kind of conditions when you're being physically or mentally tortured."  His is a story of survival and strength, that can serve as an inspiration to us all.

"It's amazing to me, even now, that people can endure more than they ever think possible," said Hall.  "The cold, the starvation, the dieting.  If we have a strong support base, family and loved ones, but particularly God has to be involved in it."  His legacy has touched the lives of those closest to him, but now it will forever be recognized by his country.

Sergeant Hall's family came in to celebrate Christmas and surprised him with this ceremony in Athens Saturday.

Courtney lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com  

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