Connect with us

Family & Home

Weber speaks of his father’s letters home, captured during WWIII, during POW-MIA Recognition Day at Western Tech



Don Weber holds a box of letters written by his father during WWII during Western Tech's POW-MIA event on Sept. 18, 2023. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

A yearly day of remembrance for Prisoners of War (POW) and those missing in action was marked for the first time by Western Technical College in La Crosse.

WTC held a POW-MIA (Missing in Action) recognition event Monday at the downtown site of a monument to people captured or missing from wars involving the US.

The black monument bearing the slogan “Freedom is not free” was dedicated at WTC two years ago, in honor of La Crosse businessman Don Weber, whose father was a POW late in World War II.

Weber spoke at the event, bringing a box of 167 letters that his father wrote to his mother during the war, before and after his capture.

A color guard presents flags at a POW-MIA recognition service on Sept. 18, 2023, during a Western Tech ceremony honoring those who went missing during US wars. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

Area veterans filled many of the seats for the midday outdoor ceremony along 7th Street, as Weber recalled the first letter his mother received after her husband became a prisoner.

“She gets this card, came from concentration camp,” Weber said. “It’s from my father, basically saying, I suppose by now you know where I’m at. I’m okay, don’t worry.”

Weber told how his father escaped and hid in a barn for three days before guards found him again and returned him to the prison camp.

Western Tech president Roger Stanford believes that the monument on campus is the only memorial in Wisconsin specifically dedicated to POWs and MIAs.

The “Freedom is not free” monument at WTC, during the school’s POW-MIA event on Sept. 18, 2023. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

The third Friday of September is designated as National POW-MIA Recognition Day, with local ceremonies in the U.S. scheduled on or around that date. The annual observances began in the 1980s. 

“The powerful monument on this beautiful campus reminds us of former POWs, individuals who endured captivity courageously and honorably during wars and conflicts undertaken by our nation to keep us free,” Karen Long, director of the Tomah VA Medical Center, who was among the speakers at the WTC ceremony, said.

More than 300 former POWs have been treated by Tomah VA Health Care System over the years. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *