Dr. Charlie Stenger, a World War II Army veteran, was awarded the
Prisoner of War Medal by Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, Army G-1, on
August 16, 2016 at Stenger's Maryland home.
Although the POW
Medal was a long time in coming, Stenger, who is still sharp and
relatively strong at 94, said it was a proud moment and he was
honored by the Soldiers who came to witness the event. He was
reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences, but he said it was OK
for his wife of 15 years, Mary Lou Guandolo, to relate some of what
August 16, 2016 - Dr. Charlie Stenger, a World War II Army veteran,
with Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, Army G-1, after being awarded the
Prisoner of War Medal at his home in Rockville, Maryland. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)
During the Battle of the Bulge, Stenger fought in
the Schnee Eifel salient of Belgium, serving as a medic with
the 423nd Infantry Regiment, which was attached to the 106th
Infantry Division, she said.
On Dec. 21, 1944,
Stenger's regiment was overrun and surrounded by the
Germans. He and his fellow Soldiers fought back, but it soon
became clear that they faced certain annihilation. Stenger
found a white piece of cloth and surrendered the remaining
men, she said.
He was one of 6,697 prisoners who were
captured during the surprise German offensive.
was held at multiple prison camps until the end of the war,
Guandolo related. During his transition from one camp to
another, he was locked inside a boxcar that was strafed by
the allied forces. Stenger was blown completely outside of
the boxcar, landing on his back.
Disabled by injuries
from that explosion and frozen feet, Stenger faced hardships
as a POW. The food that he and the other POWs were given was
so lousy that they had to forage for whatever they could
find near the prison camp.
One happy occasion during
his time as a POW was when Stenger found two bottles of wine
during a foraging expedition. He stuck them up his sleeves
and shared the wine with his fellow POWs, a much needed
SOLDIER FOR LIFE
In addition to
Stenger with the medal, McConville also presented him with a
"Soldier for Life" sticker and pin and a commander's coin.
Stenger expressed pride for his service and said he
considers himself honored to be counted among the Soldiers
McConville noted that, even after Stenger
was honorably discharged from the Army at the end of the
war, he continued to serve Soldiers as a psychologist in the
Veterans Administration, as the Department of Veterans
Affairs was then called.
Records from the VA indicate
that, among the Stenger's many contributions, he was
instrumental in assisting former POWs with their
As a former POW himself, he
could especially relate to them. He served there from 1947
until his retirement in 1980.
ABOUT POW MEDALS
POW Medals are awarded to combat veterans who were taken
prisoner during time of war, with the stipulation that
during the time they were being held, they acted honorably.
By U.S. Army David Vergun, DMA
Army News Service
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