Nine World War II Airmen Honored

Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh awarded the Prisoner of War Medal to nine World War II Army Air Forces airmen during a ceremony held seven decades after they were interned at Wauwillermoos Camp in Switzerland. Retired Lt. Col. James Misuraca, retired Maj. James Moran, 1st Lt. Paul Gambaiana, 1st Lt. James Mahon, TSgt. Alva Moss, SSgt. John Fox, Sgt. William Blackburn, and Sgt. George Thursby were present during the April 30 ceremony at the Pentagon. The son and grandson of the ninth POW, SSgt. Thomas Sinitsky, who died recently, accepted the Medal on his behalf. The men were shot down over Switzerland in 1943 and 1944 while flying bombing missions into Nazi Germany, according to a May 1 release. During that time, aircrews only had a 25 percent “chance of surviving a combat tour without being shot down, captured, or killed,” said Welsh. “It’s the kind of courage we read about in books, that people make movies about, and that these humble, grateful survivors praise on their fallen comrades, but rarely seem to recognize in themselves.” Army Maj. Dwight Mears, the grandson of Army Air Force Lt. George Mears, who was among those captured in 1944, began petitioning 15 years ago to honor the men, who were not previously eligible for the POW Medal because of Switzerland’s neutral status during the war. In 2013, Congress passed an amendment to allow the men to be considered.