Former POW remembers Nazi camp on Grandfather's Day

Sunday was National Grandparents Day and one grandparent in Kilgore is glad to be celebrating it, 66 years after he was shot down over Nazi Germany.  Freddie Ward of Kilgore survived nearly two years in a German prisoner of war camp.

The 87-year-old still preaches every Sunday at Highland Park Church in Kilgore, but not a day goes by that he doesn't remember, July of 1943 when his bomber was shot down over Germany.

"Let's see I went in the day after my 21st birthday, I think about it every day," said Ward.  He was a POW at the notorious Stalag 17 and suffered brutal treatment at the hands of the Nazi's.

"What struck me was the filthiness of the place," said Ward.  "We had two men killed trying to escape which you have to understand they told us that if you try to escape you will be shot."  Through near starvation, he and his fellow soldiers made a vow, they would stay alive.

"Just going to try to make it through that deal and survive," said Ward.  He's lived to see many wars and a new generation of veterans coming home, that he sympathizes with.

"I just pat them on the back and tell them they did a good job," said Ward.  "They are doing a great job over there, and I believe they've just about got it won."  He holds no bitterness, but wants to remind people of what they need to be truly thankful of.

"I've had a pretty good life, I'm just glad to be here," said Ward.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting.