Memorial Day memories with a local POW

By Perry Russom

May 25, 2013 Updated May 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When James Wood was drafted into the military as teenager, he had no idea of the hardships ahead of him.

Wood was flying in his B-24 Liberator in World War II, when he was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire.

"The pilot told us we were going to have to bail out," said Wood. "We went as far as we could, then he told us to bail. All of us listed men bailed out."

When he parachuted to the ground, he was caught by a tree that landed him softly on the ground.

Once he landed, he was captured by the German military in modern-day Slovenia.

He was taken to Budapest for a few days and then the boarded a train to Germany where he was a prisoner of war for nine months.

In the prison camp, Wood says the soldiers were fed bread made from sawdust and potato water.

"They gave us some stuff that was actually spoiled," said Wood. "Some stuff had worms in it. We just dumped that. We didn't eat it."

After his time at the prison, the soldiers were forced to march all day back and forth for another four and a half months before they were freed by the British military.

"I don't think young people understand what they went through," said Sharon Cook, Wood's daughter. "Unless we have history they can read, they will never understand it."

Now 89 years old, Wood said this Memorial Day weekend, his mind will be on the men with whom he served.

Cook said there are plans to put a marker where her father's plane went down in Slovenia.

The project is being spearheaded by Marko Zdovc of Slovenia who has helped Cook and her sister put together their father's history as a POW in WWII.