James Hayden, who has also been awarded the Silver Star, spent close to three years “imprisoned by North Korean and Chinese troops during the Korean War,” according to the Tacoma-based News Tribune.
The imprisonment came after Hayden had already earned a Silver Star for his brave actions fighting against Germans during World War II.
He was captured with more than 100 other soldiers on Dec. 1, 1950. Hayden remembered an all-night battle. By morning, the Americans were surrounded. Hayden’s commander chose to surrender rather than watch his soldiers die one-by-one.
As a prisoner, Hayden remembered receiving a cup of food in the morning and a cup in the afternoon. Temperatures in North Korea would drop to well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, making the weather one of the greatest threats to his survival.
… He was not released until Sept. 5, 1953. He came home 65 pounds lighter and with bones so damaged by malnutrition that he spent a year in Madigan Army Medical Center while doctors tried to repair his spine.