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Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service

Chapter Five: Survivors

The vulnerability of men serving their country is dramatically recalled in these stories, beginning with two vivid tales of survival at sea. Tales of prisoners of war span five wars, from World War I, with its relatively genteel conditions, to the privations suffered by the men and women who fought the Japanese, Vietnamese, and Iraqis, when civility often took a back seat to expediency and cruelty. In each instance, the prisoner tapped on reserves of fortitude and patience to overcome their captors' brutality.

One Man's Story - Giles G. McCoy

Image of Giles G. McCoy

After surviving three of the Pacific Theater's most harrowing campaigns and a kamikaze attack, Marine Giles McCoy thought the worst was over when his ship returned to the States for repairs in the summer of 1945. But that ship, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, had one more mission to perform, whose aftermath—hundreds of men stranded for days in shark-infested waters—was an event whose horrible consequences still reverberate.

Learn more about Giles G. McCoy

"I didn't want to end up in the belly of some shark and neither did the other guys." (Audio Interview, Part 2, 5:38)

Additional Veterans Featured in Chapter Five

Image of Rhonda Scott Cornum

"I would have been afraid, except that I was so grateful to be alive."

Rhonda Scott Cornum's story

Image of Roger Dean Ingvalson

"It's very important to exercise your mind in prison."

Roger Dean Ingvalson's story

Image of Johann Carl Friedrich Kasten, IV

"... I pushed the loaf of bread to the center of the table and stated, 'We are all Americans, we don't differentiate by religion.'"

Johann Carl Friedrich Kasten, IV's story

Image of Harold Augustus Lippard

"I wasn't as cocky. It was a pain to go back into battle."

Harold Augustus Lippard's story

Image of John S. McCain, III

"I was privileged to observe a thousand acts of courage and compassion and love. It is a great honor of my life." 

John  S. McCain, III's story

Image of Jose Mares

"I could feel the heat of the muzzle, and I said, 'Well this is it.'"

Jose Mares' story

Image of Harold W. Riley

"It seems mine was the death room, each new patient brought in being very sick, no one surviving while I was there."

Harold W. Riley's story

Image of John L. Stensby, Sr.

"I'm probably the only G.I. in the U.S. Army who sunk a warship single handedly."

John L. Stensby, Sr.'s story

Image of Milton W. Stern

"Let courage be your password, make fortitude your guide / And then instead of grousing, remember those who died."

Milton W. Stern's story