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Arthur Blain Prewitt, the father of Hancock County resident Judy Dowell, served as a cook in the United States Army during WWII. Shortly after he arrived at his overseas post the Germans captured him. Dowell said growing up, her father did not talk to the females about his military service, but often talked to her brother about his service when they went fishing, and after he downed a few drinks. Dowell said he told her brother about being a POW after being in 1942.
“The vehicle him and the people were riding in was hit by a mortar,” Dowell said. “He was thrown out. Everybody was killed except for my dad.”
The Germans captured him and later transferred Prewitt to Italy. He arrived at the Italian POW camp via train. The allies invaded Italy in mid-1943 and by September of that year Italy formally surrendered. Though Italy surrendered, Germany took control of parts of the country, and hostilities continued to 1945.
According to the enlistment papers provided by Dowell, her father enlisted in the United States Army in August of 1940, and served as a cook in his unit. In May of 1942 he shipped out to Ireland. In October of 1940 the paperwork showed he shipped out to “Oran” on October 15, 1942 and arrived there on November 8, 1942. No “Oran” exists, but Iran does. In that time frame the
Allies anticipated the Middle East to be a major theater in the war, and Italy, an axis power, had a large contingent of troops in that area. Later the Germans sent troops to the Middle East. The Allies also shipped troops into that area. It was during this time frame Prewitt became a POW. Prewitt’s discharge papers show that In July of 1944 Prewitt was repatriated to the United States from Italy, and arrived on August 2, 1944. On January 29, 1945 Prewitt was discharged from the army.
Prewitt died in 1984, but he never received recognition for his service during WWII. Dowell said her father is buried in Calhoun, KY, with his second wife buried beside him. Dowell said when she traveled to Paducah, KY to visit her brother she sometimes stopped by her father’s gravesite on the way to see if a plaque honoring his service was placed on his marker. Dowell said she often paid tribute by placing items on the grave.
“Sometimes I would take a little flag and put by his grave,” Dowell said. “I decided more could be done to acknowledge him.”
One day she happened to mention the situation while talking to Randy and Sharon Brown. He is a member of the local VFW post in Hawesville, and Dowell said Brown told her he could help, all he needed was his discharge papers and social security number. The paperwork resided with her brother in Paducah, himself a military veteran.
When Prewitt died in 1984, his second wife decided against a medallion honoring his service, and instead opted for a monetary payment. After Dowell decided to try to get a medallion honoring his service, she asked her brother for the paperwork and started the process. The local VFW post proved instrumental in getting the honor for her father.
“LT (Newton) did a lot of research for me,” Dowell said. “We sent off (the paperwork) to get a medallion on his tombstone.”
On November 4 of this year Dowell received the medallion honoring her father. She said they placed the service plaque beside her father’s name on his tombstone to honor his service. “It is the first time since he died that it was made known of his service,” Dowell said.