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The POW Experience
Sponsored by Hillshire Brands. Moderated by John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation, this distinguished panel featured three American veterans who were prisoners of war in different conflicts. They discussed their experiences as POWs and how they endured their time in captivity.
- John Borling is a highly decorated, retired Air Force Major General. He served worldwide in high level command and staff positions. A fighter pilot, he graduated from the Air Force Academy, National War College, and was a White House Fellow. During the Vietnam War, he was shot down by ground fire. Seriously injured, he was captured while trying to evade and spent over 6 ½ years as a POW in Hanoi. Currently, he occupies leadership positions in multiple civic and business organizations.
- Donald E. Casey volunteered for the Aviation Cadet program of the U.S. Army Air Corps in December, 1942 at age 18 and was called for active duty in February 1943. On completing aerial navigation school on October 23, 1943 he was commissioned a 2d Lieutenant and was awarded his silver navigator's wings, still age 18 by two weeks. He flew as a navigator in B-17 " Flying Fortress" bombers on 28 combat missions out of England with the 379th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force until June 18, 1944 when his aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and he was captured by German soldiers and spent six months in Stalag Luft III the "Great Escape" prison camp in Zagan, Poland with 10,000 captured Allied flying officers. On returning to the United States in June of 1945, he was mustered out of the Army in time to enroll in Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the Fall where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in June 1948. In 1952 he returned to his home city in Chicago, Illinois where he worked for a large life and health insurance company for three years while attending law school at the University of Loyola graduating in 1957.
- Rhonda Cornum, Ph.D., M.D., recently retired from the US Army, and runs a large cattle and thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky, as well as serving as a consultant for health strategy and wellness initiatives in both governmental and private organizations. Trained as a biochemist, and later as a Urologist, she served in numerous positions over a 30 year career. Most notably as the commander of the Landstuhl Medical Center from 2003-2005, at the height of the War in Iraq. And from 2008 to 2012, as the founder and director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness in the Army Staff G-3/5/7 division. During Operation Desert Storm, then Major Cornum served as a flight surgeon with an Apache unit, the 229th Attack Helicopter Regiment. Sent on a search and rescue mission for a downed F-16 pilot, her helicopter was shot down on February 27, 1991. Five of the eight man crew died in the crash; Major Cornum was taken prisoner, with both arms broken, a serious knee injury, a gunshot wound, and other injuries. She recounted her experiences in the Gulf War in her 1993 book She Went to War.