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September 20, 2010 - Katy, Texas - Two former Prisoners of War, Adolfo W. “Bud” Fouga and Barton W. “Bart” Robertson, both residents of the Katy area, were recognized on Thursday, September 16, 2010 for their extraordinary sacrifices during World War II.  The ceremony was held at the home of Bud Fouga, a former POW who served in the European Theater and was held under German control for the last six months of the war.  The other former POW that was honored was Bart Robertson who served in the Pacific Theater of WWII. During the remembrance ceremony, both Bud and Bart shared their memories from 65 years ago. 

Bud Fouga was an Army Air Force B-17 flight engineer/gunner.  On that fateful day late in 1944, after just completing their bombing run and flying in a formation with 36 other B-17’s, they were attacked by a swarm of approximately 100 enemy aircraft. The B-17’s fought back and shot down approximately half of the attacking German planes.  However, Bud’s severely damaged plane was going down when the crew bailed out from 30,000 feet. Bud free-fell to 10,000 feet where his parachute could safely open.  Only five of his crew of nine survived the jump.  Bud broke his leg on landing and was immediately taken as a German prisoner.  He was unable to walk and did not receive initial care for his broken leg.  It was after he was transferred to another POW camp when a German doctor finally set his leg with only minimal medication. He lived on bread and soup for six months.  At the war’s end, Bud was rescued from the POW Camp named “Stalog One” by the Russian Army.  Emaciated, he was taken to France, and then sent to Florida for rehabilitating care.  He was eventually released from the military hospital in Florida and Bud returned to his home in San Antonio.  After the war, he attended the University of Texas and worked in the oil and gas industry until he retired.  Bud and his wife of 63 years, Grace, reside in Katy.  They have two children and three grandchildren.

The second former POW that was recognized was Bart Robertson, a US Army Infantry soldier that was captured in March of 1942 on the Island of Java in Indonesia. He endured three and a half years of captivity under Japanese control.  During his time of captivity, Bart’s mother had to suffer more pain; pain that only a mother can know.  She had a second son, Bart’s brother Charles R. Robertson, who also became a POW when he was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. He too was subsequently held in a POW Camp for six months.  Bart stated that his guardian angel watched over him while he was in his second to last Japanese POW camp near Nagasaki, Japan.  He was moved from this camp to his last detention camp just 19 days before the Atomic Bomb was dropped on his former location on August 9, 1945. 

From his time in captivity, Bart shared a photograph, taken of himself and five other POW’s from the Houston area.  These pictures were originally camp ID pictures.  They were obtained through friendship with a Japanese guard who had previously lived in America.  Bart also shared a pen and ink drawing, that measures roughly 3 ft x 4 ft of Fukioka #2 POW Camp located near Nagasaki.  He pointed out the location in the camp where he was housed and the pits that had been dug where flame throwers were to have been used on the Americans if an invasion of the Japanese homeland had occurred.   After returning home Bart returned to school and graduated from Texas A & M with a degree in mechanical engineering.  He was employed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., for 34 years.  After the war, he also obtained his pilot license and is now known at the post for his poetry being the VFW’s Post Poet Laurette.  He is a member of the International Society of Poets.  It is quite emotional to hear Bart read the poem he wrote titled “Lost Battalion” which highlights what he endured as a POW.   Bart is blessed with his significant other, Estelle, two sons, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The private ceremony was coordinated by Dave Brasell and Todd Spiller, Senior Vice Commander and Post Surgeon respectively, of VFW Post 9182.  The presentation was led by VFW Post Commander, Colonel (Ret.) Mike Mastrangelo. The ceremony included the presentations of Proclamation’s from Mayor Don Elder of Katy which were given individually to both Bud and Bart recognizing them for the sacrifices that they both made for this country.  Also presented to each POW were plaques in the shape of a cross, inscribed with a Soldiers Prayer, with the center piece being the American Flag.

Along with friends and family of the veterans, members of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary assisted with refreshments.  Flowers were presented to Grace Fouge and Estelle Krumpack.   Grace stated, “We are very happy with everyone coming for Buddy and Bart.  The VFW is very supportive and good.  Two VFW members visit Buddy every week and he’s very thrilled.  It means a lot.  Todd Spiller and Jim Birdwell are splendid about coming every week.”

To members of the local Veteran Service Organizations, these outstanding men will always be regarded as true American heroes. “A good time was had by all as we honored two from America’s Greatest Generation. They sacrificed more than most in service to our nation and survived the ordeal to return and symbolize freedom to younger generations,” said Mike Warren, VFW Benevolence Officer.

The ceremony that recognized our local heroes (Bud and Bart) was a part of National Prisoner of War and Missing In Action Recognition Day.  It recognized all POW/MIA’s from all wars, emphasizing the motto “you are not forgotten”.  The POW/MIA flag is flown across the United States on this day and year round as a solemn reminder of those who courageously served and are still missing or remain unaccounted for.  To date, according to government statistics, the Americans Missing in Action are as follows:  World War II—78,000 Korean War—over 8,100; and from the Vietnam War there are 2,583 unaccounted for American prisoners, missing or killed in action/body not recovered. 

The Katy VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary serve the Katy community by fulfilling many forms of public service.  For information about upcoming activities or if you are a veteran in distress or a spouse of a veteran in distress, contact Colonel (Ret) Mike Mastrangelo, Commander at 281-391-8387. For those interested in VFW Membership, please contact Dave Brasell at 713-725-3938.   Post meetings are held at the VFW Hall in old Town Katy on the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Please mention you found this on www.KatyMagazine.com.

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