Unsung Hero: Prisoner Of War

Robert A. Turner
A Company, 331st Infantry Regiment

American Prisoners of War endured great hardships at the hands of their German captors, and Robert A. Turner endured more than most. Turner was part of the Normandy Invasion and served in A Company, 331st Infantry Regiment when he was captured in the area of Les Village Des Saints on 16 July 1944. Fired on by a German tank, Turner had his right arm nearly severed. He was then captured, and a German surgeon removed his arm.

In the prison hospital, Turner was the only one who could walk without help, so he assisted the other prisoners. He was then sent to a prison camp, and survived on stale bread and boiled cabbage soup for the duration of the war.

When he returned home to the states, Turner put all his POW experiences behind him, and raised a family of seven children with his wife Beatrice. He sold appliances for a living, and went fishing and hunting in his off time.

Turner died in 2000 at the age of 77 at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His wife, Beatrice, said that he had a strong personality, and was the kind of person who never gave up on anything. The photograph below shows Turner dancing with a legless veteran (identity unknown) at a Veterans Hospital after he returned to the U.S.

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He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so many times
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know,

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

Poem contributed by Joyce Turner Dawson, daughter of Robert A. Turner.