Veteran Salute: POW lived on chunk of bread in his parka


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – One Army veteran was so young when he went to enlist in the service, his father had to agree to sign for him.

Joe Wright’s older brother was in the Navy, so he thought he would join the same branch of service, but he ended up moving to Wichita and he went to work for Boeing.

He was working on the B-29, with mostly women, since so many men were away at war, when he got the letter he was off to the Army.

At 93, Wright remembered WWII like it was yesterday, and all these years later he still has things he held on to, like a necklace a little girl gave him.

“We didn’t speak the same language, or anything, but she came and brought that out to me,” WWII POW Joe Wright said.

Wright was standing guard that day as a member of the 102nd Infantry, he says the “Ozark” divisions training had to be cut short, because the Germans had broken through the lines.

“They needed men over there, bad,” Wright said.

He said they were supposed to meet up with the Russians, outside Berlin, but that all suddenly changed.

“Tanks pulled in behind us and we were taken prisoner, the whole company,” Wright said.

He said although the Germans took everything they had in their pockets, he still had something to eat.

“Chunk of bread in my parka and that is what I ate off of at that time,” Wright said.

He said although they were not tortured, they still feared the guards, who were all teenagers.

“You wasn’t so sure, about those young kids with rifles as guards,” Wright said.

He said about a week went by and then they got support from their fellow servicemen.

“The 82nd Airborne came in and got us out,” Wright said.

He said he feels for the troops, who were held captive far longer than he was.

“I think how a terrible life they must have lived, for that many years,” Wright said.

He also feels for the parents of those who sent their sons to war, just like Wright’s parents did more than once.

“My dad just about, well, he couldn’t hardly handle it,” Wright said. 

Wright is talking about the day they got a telegram, all it stated was Wright was missing in action.

“He didn’t know whether I was captured, or whether I was killed in action,” Wright said.

The Wrights would also receive word via telegram, when their son was accounted for.

He said he’s proud he served and would do it again, there’s just one thing, or should we say number he says might get in the way.

“Well, age makes a lot of difference now,” Wright said.

After the war Wright started helping his dad on the farm in Butler County.

He also went back to high school and got his diploma. 

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