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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Retired Staff Sgt. Larry Meinzen stands next to the POW flag from World War II that was given to him by a Chinese prisoner of war. Meinzen, 92, donated the flag to be on display at Concordia Lutheran High School.

  • This 1945 photo of Chinese prisoners of war is affixed to the POW flag that Meinzen, a 1943 graduate of Concordia Lutheran High School, donated to the JROTC program Wednesday morning.

Thursday, November 08, 2018 1:00 am

Concordia grad donates POW flag

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A piece of history faced Concordia Lutheran High School students as they gathered Wednesday morning in the auditorium: a prisoner of war flag from World War II and the veteran who brought it home.

Larry Meinzen, 92, received the Chinese flag from a commander of a nationalist Chinese infantry battalion who survived a labor camp in Japan.

Now framed, it will hang in Concordia's JROTC Hall of Honor among photographs and descriptions of alumni and others who have contributed to the program.

“It's such an honor to have it,” said Alan Conrad, JROTC instructor. “Whenever we can display what our cadets have done, ... it's just tremendous so the new cadets can see what their heritage really is.”

Meinzen graduated from Concordia, then a boarding school, in 1943. He lives in an Illinois town near St. Louis.

Conrad summarized Meinzen's involvement in World War II, noting the alumnus was called to active duty in 1944 and fought across Europe from January to April 1945.

Meinzen was then transferred to the Pacific theater, Conrad said, to fight the Japanese, who surrendered in August 1945. Meinzen's unit was part of the occupational force, and he was assigned to Camp McCann to liberate and prepare Chinese POWs for repatriation to their homeland.

“The competency and compassion that he showed as a Christian soldier touched the hearts of the former Chinese prisoners,” Conrad said. “Prior to leaving Japan to return home, the battalion commander of the Chinese unit presented their flag to Staff Sgt. Meinzen as a token of their admiration, respect and appreciation.”

The flag, which is displayed with two photographs of POW survivors, is red except for the top left corner, which contains a white sun centered on a gray rectangle.

“It is unlaundered since the day when these noble Chinese soldiers left our care and handed it to me as a token of their appreciation,” according to Meinzen's caption for a photograph of four survivors.

Meinzen briefly addressed the students. He shared tidbits from the war and memories of Concordia. “I am very honored to be here,” he said.

asloboda@jg.net