Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Time is slipping away for many veterans who are considered part of our Greatest Generation. One man who fought in and was taken prisoner during some of the fiercest and coldest fighting during World War Two in Europe has been sharing his story with younger generations. We are recognizing him with our Serving Those Who Serve award.
Sy Lichtenfeld was taken prisoner by the Germans during one of the fiercest and coldest battles of World War Two in Europe–the Battle of the Bulge. He was held prisoner until the end of the war–and when he came home, never spoke of his experiences.
“We came back, we got married, we got educated, we worked, we put food on the table and a roof over our families heads,” said Lichtenfeld
Eventually, at the urging of his family, Sy opened up–and then wrote down what he had been through in a book that he gives freely to family and friends. More than that, he has been actively involved in making sure a younger generation doesn’t forget about what he and hundreds of thousands of others went through during one of the darkest times in world history.
“And that has subsequently grown so that when I came to Mobile, I started making the rounds of colleges, the universities and these schools giving my talk on what was POW’s, what was part of the war–because I found out the kids, they weren’t getting any kind of education anymore,” he said.
In direct language, Lichtenfeld describes his personal experience in the war—the thunderous crack of artillery and mortars, sporadic rifle fire all while penned down in a foxhole–punctuated by bouts of silence.
“I mean God forbid you have to sneeze when you’re behind enemy lines–you’ll do anything possible to keep that sneeze contained,” he said.
He describes the smell–and the severe cold–his feet swollen and unable to wear his boots while forced marched as a prisoner of war.
His nominators for this recognition–both veterans of war themselves, say Sy’s story–and others like his–should never ever be forgotten.
“Of course, we’ve got a unique man here that is royalty among these young folks. And it was always like being with a rock star,” said nominator and Vietnam Veteran Dr. Barry Booth.
Vietnam Veteran and retired U.S. Army Colonel Pat Downing said, “Until I talked to him I never realized that Russians liberated some of our prisoner of war camps–which he was liberated by the Russians.”
We’re proud to salute World War Two veteran and former prisoner of war Sy Lichtenfeld with our Serving Those Who Serve award.