Prisoners of War honored at annual Fort Hamilton event
In light of National Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Day, the Fort Hamilton Army Base honored a handful of former POWs from past wars while remembering those still missing in action at a ceremony held in the fort community center’s Jackson Room on Thursday, September 18.
The event, held annually, allows the Fort Hamilton community to come together in solidarity and in remembrance of those who have served as prisoners of war.
World War II veteran Pasquale Barrese, nicknamed “Patsy,” spoke of his days as a prisoner of war in Germany.
“I was with the second wave to land on the beach. The first wave was completely wiped out,” he said. “The Germans managed to hold us back until our battleships bombed the shores and wiped out whatever Germans were left. We were there for about 66 days when we were order to march towards Rome. When we were ambushed by the German, I was hit in the shoulder and leg, fell in a ditch, then taken prisoner.”
From there, the veteran said, he was interrogated by a German lieutenant that “spoke better English than [him]” and, after being discharged from a German hospital, attended to cows on German farms as a prisoner of war.
“Imagine me, a New Yorker who absolutely nothing about farming, put in charge of taking care of cows,” noted Barrese who worked as a farmer for roughly nine months before he and fellow prisoners were rescued by the 3rd Infantry Division.
After a 60 day furlough, he was sent to what is now Fort McClellan to be discharged from the Army.
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