World War II veterans unite
September 06, 2012
Lou Fowler (left) with Jim Allen
It was a reunion that was 67 years in the making for Columbia’s Lou Fowler and Aiken’s Jim Allen. That reunion happened Wednesday during an orientation for the Sept. 26th co-op sponsored Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Fowler, a former World War II prisoner-of-war, was speaking to the gathering of veterans and their guardians about his experiences as a POW. During his captivity, Fowler says he was beaten, jabbed with bayonets and refused medical treatment. Food was hard to come by. Sanitation was non-existent. He thought he was going to die. But in the waning days of the war, Fowler and three fellow prisoners made a daring escape and headed into the countryside towards the American troops. And what Fowler told the group next was something that veteran Jim Allen could hardly believe. Fowler and the others were rescued a day later by a group of American soldiers--the 104th Infantry (Timberwolf) Division. It turns out that division is the very same one Allen served in.
Shortly after the orientation wrapped up, the two men met.
“This World War II veteran (Allen) was in the division that liberated me from a German prison camp in 1945,” Fowler said with a huge grin. “This is the first guy that I have met, with the division that liberated me, the first person I’ve ever met in more than 65 years.”
The two men could hardly contain their smiles as they remembered that liberation day—April 26, 1945—just like it was yesterday. Hugs followed, but no tears. Not for these men.
Fowler compared the emotions of liberation to those he experienced when he first saw the World War II Memorial—the first stop of the day for veterans on the Honor Flight.
“It is the most beautiful memorial,” Fowler said. And as he told Allen and the other vets, “That is your memorial.”