They spent years overseas as Prisoners of War in Romania.
Thursday, Congressman Aaron Schock presented American flags to a select group of former World War II POW's in recognition of their sacrifices and military service. He met them and their families the Illinois Veterans Home.
In attendance were Doug Morrell of Highland, CA, Olin Schneider of Chandler, AZ, Edwin Maurice Braswell of Fayetteville, NC, Frank Berens of Louisville, KY and Robin Baudino, the granddaughter of George Victor Young of Tucson, AZ. Robert Schmitz of Dallas, TX would later reunite with the group Thursday evening.
All of them shared stories of crash landings, MIA statuses and the moments when they were forced to bail from their aircrafts and captured.
"By the time I got to the ground, there were a lot of people already waiting for me. I told them I was American, and they though, oh, that was great. They took me to a farmhouse around noon and I had dinner with them. I said, help me get out of this mess. They said, oh, we can't do that. They took me into town and put me in jail," Schneider said.
"They took us into Bucharest and the people were spitting at us, cussing at us and throwing sticks and stuff at us. We didn't know whether we were going to get out of there or not," Morrell said.
"I remember well that day, August 23, when technically we were freed following the king's broadcast. Romania was changing sides in the war, and then the next morning as we were getting up by daybreak, the Germans came over and bombed our POW camp and I nearly got killed then, than when I did getting bailed out," Braswell said.
"I was engaged before I went overseas. When I landed in New York, I called my girlfriend and said, let's get married. She said okay and I got home five days later and we were married. It was quite a return," Schneider said.
For years, this same group of surviving POW's has met annually for a reunion. We were told this year will be their last.