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Museum's letter gives insight into a POW's life ahead of Memorial Day

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WWII POW Letter West Frankfort May 2023

WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. (WSIL) -- Every item inside the West Frankfort Military Museum has a story.

On Tuesday, it's vice curator Danny Loeh showed News 3 a letter written by a World War II veteran who was taken as a prisoner of war during the Bataan Death March of 1942.

"The march was 420 miles and the temperature was 120 degrees," the letter read.

A man named Darrell McGhee wrote the letter in 1996 after serving in the Navy in WWII. McGhee and thousands of others were forced to march hundreds of miles to prison camps.

"We were divided into groups of 10 and if 1 man tried to escape all 10 were beheaded and shot while the other POW's watched," the letter read.

The gruesome details paint a picture of a soldier's life as a POW. Since WWII, more than 81,000 are considered POWs or Missing in Action according to the Department of Defense. Over 72,000 are from WWII alone.

But once lost soldiers are being found thanks to advances in DNA technology. Loeh hopes that technology will bring more troops home.

Until then, Loeh will keep them all in mind.

"Let us never forget our fallen. Let us never forget our POWs missing in action. Lets never forget. Lets honor them," Loeh said.

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