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thedrifter
05-31-03, 06:57 AM
May 30, 2003

Seward 84-year-old awarded Purple Heart as WWII POW

Associated Press


SEWARD, Neb. — Former U.S. Army Cpl. Robert Dowding has one reason for wanting the Purple Heart he was promised more than 50 years ago, and it’s not for hoopla surrounding such an honor.
The 84-year-old Dowding said he had been seeking one for so long to raise consciousness about what it was like to be a World War II prisoner of war.

That included not having a “bed to sleep in at night or a place to take a bath,” he said. “If more people realized how tough it was, they would have a better appreciation for our country and the many freedoms we enjoy in the United States.”

Dowding and some of his fellow troops on the Philippine island of Mindanoa were held for more than three years after surrendering to Japanese soldiers in May 1942.

Through starvation, beatings and forced labor, Dowding survived to return home. He was discharged from the Army in March 1946.

As a POW, he qualified for a Purple Heart medal, but the Army told him its supply was exhausted.

Dowding also was told not to worry, he would eventually receive it.

Longtime friend and nurse Jodi Palik heard Dowding’s story and learned he was still waiting for the medal. She wrote to U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

“He was still a prisoner of war,” she said of Dowding’s psychological stress. “He deserves his Purple Heart.”

Hagel’s office recently notified Dowding that he not only had qualified for the Purple Heart but also a Bronze Star, which is his second.

And Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and two-time recipient of the Purple Heart, is scheduled to decorate Dowding on July Fourth.




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Copyright 2003 The Associated Press



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