Local Hero Receives Prisoner of War Medal 60 Years After Capture

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DALEVILLE -- Retired Major Leo Suiter received the Prisoner of War medal during a special ceremony today in Daleville.

Family and friends surrounded Suiter as Congresswoman Martha Roby pinned Suiter with the honorable award.

Suiter enlisted in the military in June 1944 and was assigned to the 106th infantry division.

During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, PFC Suiter's platoon was captured by a German horse-drawn artillery unit. The Germans took PFC Suiter to Stalag 4B Muhlberg Sachsen 51-13, made famous in the book "Slaughter House Five."

Only 63 days into combat, the numbers for the 106th infantry division included 417 killed in action, 1,278 wounded in action, 197 missing in action and 6,500 taken prisoner of war.

On April 23, 1945, the Soviet Union overran the area where the prisoner's camp was located and took control of the camp.

The Soviets released the POW's on July 14, 1945. When PFC Suiter was released, he weighed less than 98 lbs at 6' 2".

He reenlisted in the military on June 27, 1946 and spend 20 more years. He retired with the rank of Major.

His grandson, E4 Cpl. Noah Suiter said his grandfather always provided inspiration through his service and the stories he told of his time overseas.

"I'm very proud of my grandfather," Cpl. Suiter said. "He's a very substantial person in my life and a very, very good role model. He actually talked me into joining the military and when I became an infantryman, you get a blue cord and he got to pin my blue cord on me. Which was very, very awesome, he cried when he did it."