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The Southern Heritage Air Foundation announces birthday celebration of WWII/POW veteran

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(Photo courtesy Southern Heritage Air Foundation)

From: Southern Heritage Air Foundation  Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport 

The Southern Heritage Air Foundation is proud to announce the 99th Birthday Celebration of  Mississippi WWII/POW Veteran Lamar Rodgers on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM at the Southern Heritage Air Foundation Museum, Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional  Airport, Exit 182 (Mound) off of I-20. 

(Excerpts from an interview in the Clarion Ledger, dated October 28, 1978)  

Lamar Rodgers, was a 21 year old top turret gunner on a B-25 flying out of North Africa, when  his plane was shot down and he was captured by the Germans on August 19, 1943. He spent  almost two years in war camps, most of the time in Austria.  

At the time of their capture the fliers were wearing flight suits. These were taken from them and  given to the German crews. In exchange, “we were given tweed pants and a civilian shirt – which was our wardrobe for the remainder of the war,” Rodgers recalls.  

In October of 1943, Rodgers and the Air Force prisoners were sent to the infamous Stalag XVIIB  at Krems, Austria.  

The men got a hot shower every three months – really a de-lousing… One spigot of water,  between the barracks, was their water supply and there was a central mess hall from which food  was dispensed. “One man would go to the mess hall with a wooden keg and he would carry the  soup back to the barracks. It had to serve between 100 and 150 men, and after the first time, no  man ever spilled a drop. It was too precious,” said Rodgers. The soup, which was the entire diet  supplied by the Germans and Austrians, was usually made of dehydrated cabbage, but  occasionally there would be a potato peeling soup that would be a treat. 

“The cabbage had been dehydrated and stored in the 1930s,” says Rodgers, “and needless to  say it was very worm infested. When water was added and the cabbage cooked, the worms  floated to the top of the soup. The first reaction was total rejection. However, as hunger  increased, the next step was to get in a corner and try to scrape the worms out. Then as hunger  increased more, the worms were a welcome addition.” 

From 170 pounds when he was captured, Rodgers lost weight until he only weighed 114 pounds  at the time of his release.

Rodgers was at Stalag XVIIB until just before the close of the war, when the prisoners and  guards marched together for more than 300 miles through the cold to escape capture by the  Russians.  

Finally, they met up with an American outfit, and the men were flown to Nancy, France and then  were taken by train to Cherbourg. They were fed anything they wanted, and as much as they  wanted, to fatten them up for the return to the states. 

Rodgers weighed 136 pounds when he got back to his home in Yazoo City, MS on June 17,  1945. After a rest, he entered Hinds Junior College and then 27 months after liberation, he  rejoined the Air Force and finished his 20 years of service. 

We hope you will join Lamar Rodgers, his family and us as, we celebrate his 99th birthday! The lunch is $10 per person, and complimentary for Veterans and those currently serving.  RESERVATIONS are REQUIRED, to ensure we have enough food for everyone.  

Tickets online at: https://southernheritageair.networkforgood.com/events/29451-may-hang-out at-the-hangar-lunch or Reserve Seating by calling 318-574-2731 by Monday, May 10th. Lunch will be one of Lamar’s Favorite meals and is provided by the Gumbo Pot of Vicksburg and will  

include: Brisket, Potato Casserole, Green Beans, Salad, and Rolls. Desserts will include a special  cake for Lamar created by HannMade Cakes, and desserts from our amazing volunteers! 

The Museum is requesting birthday cards for Lamar. We are trying to gather 100 (99 with  one to grow on). You can mail a card to: Lamar Rodgers c/o Southern Heritage Air Foundation,  179 VTR Airport Rd., Tallulah, LA 71282. Donations to the Museum where he has a display,  can also be made in honor of Lamar Rodgers. We will provide a card for you with this option. To  donate click here: https://southernheritageair.networkforgood.com/projects/90108-southern heritage-air-foundation 

There are very few WWII Veterans living today. We should honor them for  the many freedoms we have. Please join us in doing so!

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Vicksburg Daily News