The Story of Walter Ram: WWII Combat Vet and P.O.W. Survivor (Part III)

50 Years After the War: The Travel Back to Europe

 1993 marked 50 years after the fatal day where his B-17 was shot down and he was captured by Germans. In June 1993 Walter Ram and his son traveled back to Europe, where Walter revisited his prison camp and visited the final resting place of his crewmates.

The outskirts of Krems, Austria, where Stalag 17-B once towered over its victims, now stands a calm field of grass and weeds. But when you squat down and really look, you can find the cement foundations of one of the notorious prison camps during the War.

Stalag 17-B
Walter kneels down to look at Stalag 17-B foundation

Which is exactly what Walter did. He found the foundation of his barracks in the quiet field surrounded by thick forest. Alongside the cement foundation Ram also found a piece of barbed wire from the surrounding area. Stalag 17-B was surrounded by two fences covered by barbed wire.

Stalag 17-B barbed wire
Walter holding barbed wire from Stalag 17-B

Walter’s next stop in Europe was the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Neupré, Belgium. The Ardennes American Cemetery has 5,329 graves for American troops that were killed in action or considered missing in action on foreign soil.

Out of these 5,329 graves, Walter was on the hunt for three of them: his crewmates that did not survive their crash in 1943. Walter and his son found the resting places of Tom Hamilton, Elson Frost, and Paul Hunt.

10 years after Walter and his son visited WWII sites in Europe, they were able to find the final resting place of the man who saved his life: Chuck Lewis.  If you recall in the first post of this series, Chuck Lewis was the crewmate that basically threw Ram out of their burning plane, pushing him to safety.

National Cemetery at Ardennes
Left: Walter kneels by the headstone of Chuck Lewis
Right: Walter stands by the headstone of Elson Frost in the National Cemetery at Ardennes

Walter Ram: Displaying His Story

Walter’s son reached out to our Military Award Specialist for help building his father’s display case. We were ecstatic to have this opportunity to help the son of a man with such an incredible story!

Our Military Awards Specialist provided Walter’s son with a new ribbon rack, medals and their ID plates, Walter’s ranks, unit patch, and a brass plate that summarizes Walter’s experience during WWII.

Medals of America display cases and shadow boxes
Left: Close up of Walter’s display case
Right: Walter standing next to his display case

When veteran and their families build their display cases, it is filled with awards and insignia from Medals of America, but the most important part of the case is the personal mementos that go in to the cases. In this case, Walter’s P.O.W. name tag and barbed wire from Stalag 17-B are in his case.

Walter and his son put together this case. They carefully and meticulously placed every single item in its perfect place, from the black and white photos to Walter’s Ruptured Duck pin and 158th Infantry pin. Walter’s son traveled with his father, visiting graves in Europe to New York and putting this case together was another step together in this story.

WWII B-17 bomber
Walter recreates a picture of him from WWII

Medals of America helps veterans and their family members produce display cases that do more than show off medals and awards. Our cases tell the story of survival, courage, and above all else love for our country; and Walter Ram’s display case and his story is a perfect example of how we help achieve this for veterans and families.