POWs came together in Fresno

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Imagine being held against your will, while fighting for your country. For thousands of service members, being a prisoner of war has been their reality. (KFSN)

Imagine being held against your will, while fighting for your country. For thousands of service members, being a prisoner of war has been their reality.

These are the faces of bravery, men, who served our country and were taken captive by the enemy. On Thursday, people gathered to pay their respects to this group of Valley POWs, including Jack Schwartz.
"On the island of Guam," said Schwartz. "We had no defenses. We were captured the third day of the war. So actually I was a POW longer than anyone I think."

Schwartz is 99-years-old and will be 100 at the end of the month. Days after Pearl Harbor, he became a POW for a total of 1,367 days.

"Never lost hope," said Schwartz. "I always figured if we died, I'd be the last one, but we didn't all die thank goodness."

Schwartz and several of his fellow veterans were honored at the Veterans Affair in Central Fresno as a part of National Prisoners of War Remembrance Day. A day that touches veterans of every conflict.

Director Maurice Turner said, "We look at movies and we see costume heroes and these are the real heroes of America. And it's why I'm here and we're here and we're able to have the freedoms today."

Each POW was given a rose and the widows of service members were also given a flower. Inspirational messages were shared by several including, Vern Schmidt, commander of the Ex-Prisoner of War. He was in the infantry in World War II and continues to carry on his brother Glen's memory.

"He was also an infantryman in world war two in Europe," said Schmidt. "He was wounded in France and captured and barely survived. As most of these fellows can tell you today too. Their survival is a miracle."

Living proof that freedom is not free.


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