World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

POW Medal


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I

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The Interrogators
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The Evacuation
The Return
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POW Medal
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Prisoner of War Medal

Prisoner of Warl - front

Prisoner of War Medal - reverse


Description and Symbolism


In the center of a bronze medallion one and three eighths inches in diameter, an eagle is shown with  its wings displayed.  Forming a circle around the eagle and following the contour of the medal, barbed wire and bayonet points may be seen. The eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States in general and the individual prisoner of war in particular. It is standing "with pride and dignity, continually on the alert for the opportunity to seize hold of beloved freedom.'


The reverse has the inscription "AWARDED TO" around the top and "FOR HONORABLE SERVICE WHILE A PRISONER OF WAR" across the center in three lines with a space between the two inscriptions for engraving the name of the recipient. The shield of the Coat of Arms of the United States is centered on the lower part of the reverse side with the inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" around the bottom of the medal.


The ribbon to the Prisoner of War Medal is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of a central band of black edged in white. The edge stripes of the ribbon are composed of pinstripes of red, white and blue (with the red forming the outer edge of the ribbon). The red, white and blue edge stripes represent the United States; the larger white stripes represent hope, and the black center stripe alludes to the bleakness of confinement as a prisoner of war.



a. The POW Medal is authorized by Public Law 99-145, section 1128, title 10, United States Code (10 USC 1128), 8 November 1985, and is authorized for any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces, was taken prisoner and held captive after 5 April 1917.

b. The POW Medal is to be issued only to those U.S. military personnel and other personnel granted creditable U.S. military service who were taken prisoner and held captive.

  (1) While engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

  (2) While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.

  (3) While serving with friendly forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

c. U.S. and foreign civilians who have been credited with U.S. military service which encompasses the period of captivity are also eligible for the medal. The Secretary of Defense authorized on January 27, 1990, the POW Medal for the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Recognized Guerrilla Unit Veterans who were held captive between December 7, 1941, and September 26, 1945. DD Form 2510-1 (Prisoner of War Medal Application/Information-Philippine commonwealth Army and Recognized Guerrilla Veterans) was developed as the application for Filipino Veterans who fit this category.

d. For purposes of this medal, past armed conflicts are defined as World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, and Persian Gulf War. Hostages of terrorists and persons detained by governments with which the United States is not engaged actively in armed conflict are not eligible for the medal.

e. Any person convicted of misconduct or a criminal charge by a U.S. military tribunal, or who receives a less than honorable discharge based upon actions while a prisoner of war, or whose conduct was not in accord with the Code of Conduct, and whose actions are documented by U.S. military records is ineligible for the medal. The Secretary of the Army is the authority for deciding eligibility in such cases.

f. No more than one POW Medal will be awarded. For subsequent award of the medal, service stars will be awarded and worn on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal. A period of captivity terminates on return to U.S. military control. Escapees who do not return to U.S. military control and are recaptured by an enemy do not begin a new period of captivity for subsequent award of the POW Medal.

g. The POW Medal may be awarded posthumously.

h. The primary next of kin of eligible prisoners of war who die in captivity may be issued the POW Medal regardless of the length of stay in captivity.

i. Personnel officially classified as MIA are not eligible for award of the POW Medal. The POW Medal will only be awarded when the individuals prisoner of war status has been officially confirmed and recognized as such by the Department of the Army. Likewise, the return of remains, in and of itself, does not constitute evidence of confirmed prisoner of war status.

j. All requests for the POW Medal will be initiated by eligible former POWs, or their next of kin, using a personal letter or DD form 2510 (prisoner of War Medal Application/Information). Applications should be forwarded to:

Commander, ARPERCEN,
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, M0 63132-5200.



POW Medal Application - DD Form 2510

To print, first click on thumbnail below and then when image is loaded in new browser window click "Print" on the browser header.  Repeat for the second page.

It is important to provide as much proof of the POW status as possible when submitting this application.  For my Dad's I sent copies of articles from his hometown newspaper in 1944, a copy of his Dulag Luft ID card, and a copy of his honorable discharge papers.  Other items suggested to submit as proof are copies of telegrams notifying of POW status, correspondence from POW camp, etc.  Also please note it is not unusual for it to take from 6 months to a year to get a response.  Your local congressman may be able to help you speed up this process.   In addition you may chose to have the medal presented to the POW or his surviving next of kin in a formal ceremony or have it mailed to you.  My Dad's was finally approved after 1 year and a letter to my Congressman.  In the approval letter I received I was informed there was a 270 day backlog in actually shipping the medal to us.  ---  Medal received finally and it did take almost 270 days !!


George Lesko  receives his medal.
Stalag Luft I Prisoner of War
Congressional POW Medal Ceremony
San Bernardino, California


George Lesko's receiving his POW medal




As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed a table at the front, raised to call your attention to its purpose -- it is reserved to honor our missing loved ones [or missing comrades in arms, for veterans].

Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still [our men] missing from each of the five services -- Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard – and civilians. This Honors Ceremony symbolizes that they are with us, here in spirit.

Some [here] in this room were very young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and served the cause of freedom in a special way.

I would like to ask you to stand, and remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, as the Honor Guard places the five service covers and a civilian cap on each empty plate.

Honor Guard: (In silence or with dignified, quiet music as background, the Honor Guard moves into position around the table and simultaneously places the covers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and a civilian hat, on the dinner plate at each table setting. The Honor Guard then departs.)


Please be seated ....... I would like to explain the meaning of the items on this special table.

The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.

The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morning’s/day’s] toast.

The chairs are empty -- they are missing.

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.

Courtesy of

Information on other medals:    In addition our government will provide replacement medals and ribbons free of charge to any veteran or their next of kin.  I also applied for these and recently received them approximately 9 months after applying for them.  They are very nice and even engraved with his name on them.

Here is a links with info on ordering these:


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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.