When I was a little girl, my Great-Uncle Shub and family would come to visit us at Honey's house, (my grandmother, his sister)...When he came you were sure to be laughing because he is fun. Back when I was little I noticed that he had a different car tag than everyone else; his tag said POW. I asked mom what that meant and she said he was a prisoner of war. I only knew about prisoners in jail, not prisoners of war. My mom explained that when he was at war that he was captured by the "bad guys" and held prisoner. I seemed to understand it a little better. I knew that he had some army friends that he always went to see each year, but he never really talked about his experiences much.
Uncle Shub Aunt Erma and my cousins Jan, Shelby Jr. and Becky ...this photo was taken at Honey's sometime in the 1970's.
When my mom was a little girl, my fun-loving Great-Uncle was sent off to war during the Korean Conflict. Just days into the front lines he was shot in the face and stomach by the enemy. These injuries were not taken care of until he returned home. For a few days he laid low and tried to find his way back to the front lines, but was captured by the enemy and taken as a POW.
He was captured and held prisoner in North Korea by a ruthless North Korean Major who soon had the nickname "Tiger". My Uncle is known as a Tiger Survivor. Learn more about Tiger Survivors here
When my Great Grandparents received the news that he was indeed missing in action and presumed dead, my great-grandmother would not accept the news. She believed he was alive. She read and prayed scripture daily believing for his safe return..
This photo was taken shortly after Uncle Shub's return home. He is pictured in the middle between My Great-Uncle Shirley, and my Grandmother Honey. Also, pictured here are Martha and Gilbert Creel, his parents. The ones who believed by faith for his return.
My grandmother recounts that right before he returned home, the news on the radio was reading lists of POWs about to be released. She said they read lists off every night, finally on the last night of hearing the list, she knew it was getting close to the end of the list...so she gave up and turned off the radio. Friends that heard his name called to let her know that he was indeed on the list.
When Uncle Shub started his way home he was put on a boat with other POW's they were fed lots of rice because they were literally skin and bones. He had lived years with out clothes or anything much to eat.
Uncle Shub always said if he ever made it home, he wanted a washtub full of banana pudding. My mother remembers that there was a huge dishpan of banana pudding at the welcome home celebration.
This was the only photo that Honey could find of that celebratory meal. Uncle Shub is seated near the fridge.
Uncle Shub with his siblings
Uncle Shub received the Purple Heart in 2004. He lived as a Prisoner of War under the Tiger for 3 years and 9 months. Let me repeat that 3 years and 9 months. That's a long time! Many of us were almost done with college in that length of time. So remember...Freedom is not free.
Here is a photo taken earlier this year of Uncle Shub standing near his display in a museum. At this museum you can learn more about his experiences and hear his oral history.
This is Dustin, Uncle Shub's grandson photographed outside of the museum.
Honey and Uncle Shub.
As I've said before, I have only heard little snippets of his POW experiences. But lately he has started to share his life story....and what a story it is. He had two buddies with him during his captivity....they held each other up during death marches when one or the other just could not go any farther. If they fell they would have been executed on the spot. These men became brothers and their bond has lasted a lifetime.
So if you're listening Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard...my Uncle Shub has a story to tell and it would make a great movie.
So this Memorial Day as you sit and enjoy your BBQ, or your day off, or those really good sales....remember to THANK a veteran, you might even have a walking history book walking around in your family...get their story before it's too late.
Your American Freedom was bought with a price!
Thank you, Uncle Shub!