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Cities and counties across the nation are coming together to help ensure the promise "no one left behind, no one forgotten" is kept.

Fredericktown joined those fellow communities on Saturday by receiving the POW-MIA City designation.

Board members from the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum joined city officials and members of the public to present the proclamation and road signs to Fredericktown Mayor Kelly Korokis as well as thank the community for its support.

"The mission of the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum is to reverently honor all who served our country in any branch of the United States Military, who were captured by enemies of the United States or who are missing in action from any year and from any conflict," Jefferson Barracks POW-Museum Board President Paul Dillon said. "As part of this mission and an effort to raise awareness across the nation, the museum has established the POW-MIA City and POW-MIA County programs."

Dillon said the programs are open invitations to towns, cities, municipalities and counties across the country to join together with the museum to ensure all POWs and MIAs are remembered.

"The fundamental requirement for a city or a county to become a POW-MIA City or County is to actively participate in raising awareness of the American public regarding our POWs and MIAs," Dillon said. "It can be as simple as making sure that the POW-MIA flag is flown at all municipal and county locations and educating its citizens as to what is stands for."

Marcus Ward of Fredericktown created the presentation from which the board made the ultimate decision to award the City of Fredericktown with the POW-MIA City designation.

Ward's presentation highlighted how the City of Fredericktown actively highlights and remembers its servicemen and women.

"There is a lot of history in our little town," Ward said. "Groups in Fredericktown have strived to preserve this history. I believe acquiring the POW-MIA City title was the best way to show these facts and that is why I took on this project."

Ward made the most of the project, as it included photos of war memorials commemorating everything from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War.

The presentation took the board members through a virtual tour of the town showing them the plaques at the Madison County Courthouse, the site of the Battle of Fredericktown and introduced them to Old Abe as he proudly spreads his wings in the center of town.

Ward highlighted the civic involvement of the town including Rotary Club, American Legion Post 248, Lion's Club, Masons, Daughters of the American Revolution and Boy Scout Troop 27 before ending his presentation with the story of local POW, Harris L. Tinnin.

Tinnin was reported as being a Prisoner of War held at Stalag VII-A in Moosburg Germany for approximately one year during World War II. 

According to family records, life at the camp consisted of manual labor and small rations of barley soup and boiled potatoes with a piece of cheese.

The presentation reported Tinnin as enlisting Oct. 11, 1943 weighing in at 168 lbs and was discharged Oct. 8, 1945 weighing only 97 lbs. 

Tinnin family records showed that American soldiers liberated the camp in April of 1945, which held approximately 130,000 prisoners--30,000 of which were American--on around 85 acres of land.

"German treatment was barely correct," Moosburg.org said. "In addition to harsh living condition caused by extreme overcrowding, instances of mistreatment occasionally cropped up."

Dillon said it is hard to imagine what our POWs and MIAs go through but their stories need to be told and can never be forgotten.

"It is very important that we collect these stories," Dillon said. "Our WWII generation has about all left us and unfortunately a lot of them have taken their stories with them. So it’s going to be one of the great detective stories to make sure we collect this information and next of kin is going to be very important in gathering this information."

Dillon said the museum is for everyone and the only names which are important to them are the names of the POWs and MIAs. It is going to be a place where their stories can be told.

"The project began on a wing and a prayer," Dillon said. "The idea and the hope to have a building where not only our POWs but our MIA have a place where we can put names, faces and stories to them. That is really what the museum is all about."

The Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum is currently under construction as the board works to restore an 1898 Officers Quarters Building. 

Dillon said the building is owned by St. Louis County and the lease agreement says they must restore it to its 1898 appearance as well as convert the inside into a modern museum. 

"We are hoping to have the first floor operation by spring of this year so we are working very hard to raise money and working very hard to try and get that accomplished," Dillon said. "When we get it up and going you are all cordially invited to come and we are hoping it is something you will be proud of." 

Board Member Russ Whitener represents the Vietnam Veterans of America on the board and is responsible for cultivating the POW-MIA City and County programs.

Whitener has deep ties to Fredericktown as his fourth great-grandfather Henry Whitener was one of the founding fathers.

Whitener said it always feels like he is home when he is in Fredericktown and that giving the City of Fredericktown this designation really meant a lot to him.

Dillon said there are currently 11 cities and one county designated with more in line to follow including areas outside of Missouri, adding that the program is nation wide and expected to grow.

The proclamation encourages the citizens of Fredericktown to continue showing their appreciation for the sacrifices made by our Nation's POWs and MIAs, along with their families in the defense of American liberties and values.

"This is an honor to be designated as a POW/MIA City and in a time when history seems to be forgotten or rewritten or even erased we are going to make sure that they are not forgotten," Korokis said.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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