Whiteman Leaders Deliver Long-overdue Medals To WWII POW

Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. called him again last month, almost five years since he was the guest of honor at the annual remembrance day fro prisoners of war and those who were declared missing in action during the Second World War. That was the day he shared his story about his 548 days as a prisoner of war during the Second World War. He showed his discharge papers to Thomas Bussiere and Chief Master Sgt. Lee Barr, before telling them that he never received the medals for his service. The two promised Sibert they would take care of that, so they called him back on Jan. 24 and asked him to return to Whiteman, just this time he was going to share his stories again, but to receive his long-overdue medals, the AirForce Times reports.

According to Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Stone, 442nd Maintenance Group at Whiteman, Sibert’s granddaughter, the Second World War vet never talked about his experiences until about ten years ago. She first heard about it on the way home from a play about a prisoners of war camp, when the vet compared the show to his time in Nazi Germany some decades back.

He joined the Army Air Corps in November 1942, only a few days before turning 19. He completed his basic training in Florida and while he was there, he heard that they needed aerial gunners so he volunteered for it. On his second mission, on Oct. 14, 1943, less than a year after he enlisted, his B-17 aircraft was shot down over Germany and he was taken to the prison.

Six decades later he told his granddaughter how the German fighter shot his plane down, he told her about the Red Cross package that sometimes arrived for the prisoners, about the lice, about how they listen to the news about the war at the radio and how they tried to escape out of the camp through a tunnel but did not succeed. He also told his granddaughter how after returning to the United States he wrote a letter to his girl, in 1945, in which he wrote: “I’m ready to get married. How about you?”

Stone said that her grandfather is a “humble person” and that  “He doesn’t want recognition. The chief and the general made him feel like a hero that day.”

Among the attendees at the surprise ceremony were Sibert’s four kids and his granddaughter Kimberly Stone, commanders of the 8th Air Force and numerous chief masters sergeants.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE