American Ex-Prisoners of War
A not-for-profit, Congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organization advocating for former prisoners of war and their families.

Established April 14, 1942



Last Name:
Garner
First, Middle Name:
John D.
Address:
6950 Old Welchel Road
City, State, Zip
Dahlonega, Georgia 30533
E-Mail: Phone:
(770) 532-7945
Conflict:
WWII ETO
Branch of Service/Unit:
U.S. Army Air Force
Where Captured:
Germany
Date Captured:
19 March, 1944
Camps Held In:
Stalag Luft IV
How Long Interned:
11 months
Date Released:
26 May, 1945
Medals Received:
Am Theater ribbon, EAME with Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Ex POW ribbon
Age at Capture:
20
Military Job:
B-17 Tail Gunner
After the War...
Worked as educator.

Biography

John D. Garner was born June 8, 1924 in Gainesville, GA. He served in the 8th Air Force, 13th Wing, 390th Bomb Group, 570th Bomb Squadron as a tail gunner on a B-17. His plane was the only one lost in a mission to bomb Berlin's Rail Station. It was his first mission. He was captured by Germans on May 19, 1944.

After interrogation and 10 days of solitary confinement, he was moved by truck and then train to Luft 4 near the Baltic Sea in Poland. He stayed there for 9 months before beginning the longest forced march of POWs in America's history. He left in February during the coldest winter of the century in Europe. There were 14 inches of snow, and it was 15 degrees. The march lasted 88 days in horrid conditions of little food or clean water and almost no medical attention. Of the 7,000 men who left the camp, 5,500 were liberated by Americans in France after they had walked over 600 miles.

After John's discharge with the rank of staff sergeant, he returned home and earned an education degree. He served as a teacher and principal for 30 years. After retirement, he operated a horse farm for many pleasurable years. He passed away May 18, 2014, one day before the 70th anniversary of his capture. He is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Leona. He has 2 daughters, 5 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.