Walls of World War II Veteran's Apartment Tell Rich Story

Veteran with four Purple Hearts recalls Battle of the Bulge

View Comments ()



    An Army veteran in Plano survived being a prisoner of war following the Battle of the Bulge, the costliest battle for the United States during World War II. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013)

    A Plano veteran with four Purple Hearts has survived more brushes with death than any man should.

    Harold "Hal" Power survived being held a prisoner of war following the Battle of the Bulge, the costliest battle for the United States during World War II.

    "We were like ducks in a shooting gallery," he said of during the surprise attack by the Germans.

    Power, 89, received four Purple Hearts for wounds he sustained in combat. German soldiers tortured Power and pulled his arms from their sockets. He was hit by shrapnel from mortar fire, he sustained broken ribs during an explosion from a friendly fire Allied aircraft bombing run at a hospital where he was being treated, and he endured frostbite in both his hands and feet during the brutal winter.

    "They're usually dead or you're in very bad shape," Power said of service members who receive a Purple Heart.

    There is an effort to get Power a fifth Purple Heart for an amazing stroke of fortune involving a sniper's bullet that pierced his helmet traveled around the inside of the metal, cut his eye and dropped out to the ground.

    The walls of Power's apartment at the Legacy at Willow Bend are adorned with framed displays of his medals, which include a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor pin that he earned for saving the lives of four fellow soldiers during a death march he recalls with vivid detail.

    "If you dropped out of the line, you were shot," he said. "If you could not keep up, you were shot. And so I was helping people as best I could, carrying them, dragging them, by whatever means."

    Another war memory proudly displayed on Power's wall is a framed copy of an 8-by-10 photograph of his then-fiancee that the 19-year-old private kept close to his heart during his entire time in the war.

    "I had that taped to my chest," Power said. "When they would see that, I think I got better treatment."

    His fiancee, then-16-year-old Rita, went on to be his wife when he returned to the United States. They raised three children.

    Power said he has seen most Veterans Days pass with little to no recognition of the sacrifices he and other military members made. It has been only recently that veterans have gotten their proper attention, he said.

    "Before, it was a holiday to go make hamburgers and hot dogs and enjoy yourself," he said.

    And Power is concerned recognition of Veterans Day could return to that in the years to come.

    "You see, now it's popular," he said. "Will it be popular five years from now or 10 years from now? What will these young kids now that are coming back, what will they be in their life when all of this fanfare disappears?"