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A former Prisoner of War shares his life story

A day to remember for National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 9:46 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Leonard Warren gave up his freedom to protect our freedom. Today we honor National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. Leonard Warren credits his survival to life lessons from his parents at a young age.

Leonard Warren, a former prisoner of war said, “Make sure that I was generous, I shared, I was conservative for instance if I had three peanuts I could only eat two of them I had to save one.”

Warren joined the army just months after turning 18. Not soon after, he headed to Korea.

Warren said, “We started fighting the Koreans back and they were whooping us bad.”

After getting separated with a wounded comrade, Warren thought he had found help but instead, “We went up on the hill there and it turned out to be North Koreans but we didn’t know that and that’s how I got captured they took me and this other guy and later on we heard they killed him I’m sure.”

Warren was held prisoner in railroad cars in the site that would later be known as the Suncheon Tunnel Massacre.

He said, “I knew this one South Korean prisoner of war and he told me if you can get away you better go because they’re gonna kill us.”

Warren would try to escape twice before successfully getting away.

“This time they would try to make an example of me they took me down,” he said, “They said they were gonna kill me told rest of the prisoners if you try to escape we’re gonna kill you and they took me down in a basement and whooped me up a little bit and all kept me down there about three days.”

For his final escape, “I got over the top of the train about 2 or three o clock in the morning and looked up and down the railroad track wasn’t nobody there, I escaped from them after 93 days.”

The lesson from his parents on being conservative helped him as a POW.

He said, “They gave us like a half a cup of rice crackers, I would save as many as I could of them and then when I escaped from them I had a big ol’ army pocket full of crackers.”

Of which he shared among the men he escaped with, “I got back in time to tell the Americans and the U.N forces where they were and like I said they were gonna drop the airborne in and try to save them but it didn’t, they were one day too late, the killed all there was about 300 of them.”

Warren was given medical attention and returned to the states, he would later raise a family and serve for years as a helicopter pilot.

Timothy Warren, Leonard’s son, said, “He means everything to me, I mean like I said he’s my hero he’s taught me like his parents taught him to be kind and respect people.”

A 32 year career with the united states army,

Leonard Warren said, “I went back to Vietnam twice as a helicopter pilot, went to Germany two times as a helicopter pilot, I went to Alaska as a helicopter pilot I went to panama canal as a helicopter pilot, I went everywhere.”

During his latter years Warren has kept close to home, spending time in his chair and working on his wood carvings.

He said “It’s been a good life I had a real good time, I’m gonna have another few more years of it.”

Warren says most of those he served with have passed. His advice for future generations is to live a life that you can look back on and be proud of.

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