During World War II, several American service members were captured as prisoners of war by the German army, including Hal Halstead of Bismarck, North Dakota.
Halstead was a B-17 pilot flying a mission over Germany when his plane was shot down over in 1944. During the Annual Meeting of the West Dakota chapter, Halstead recalled his experience and shared it with attendees.
Halstead was captured and spent many months as a POW at Stalag Luft III. Food in the camp was very scarce and the only visitors he got were from the American Red Cross. The Red Cross provided food parcels and also made monthly visits to the camp to make sure soldiers were treated fairly as a part of the Geneva Code.
“I was hungry virtually almost all of the days I was there, well the last 8 or 9 months of the war,” Halstead recalls. “And frankly it’s what kept us alive, and I’ll never forget that.”
Halstead received visits monthly and although he doesn’t recall everything that happened during his time as a POW, he does remember how much the Red Cross made a difference to the American soldiers imprisoned.
“I certainly want to thank all those from the Red Cross that helped,” Halstead added. “I always have good things to say about the organization.”
The POW’s were liberated in 1945 when the war ended. Halstead did end up graduating from the University of North Dakota School of Law and has been a tremendous asset in the community as a lawyer for many years.