WINSLOW, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Today was National POW/MIA Recognition Day and soon the nearly 500 missing service members from Maine will have a permanent remembrance.
Days such as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day can be difficult for families of missing service members. Without their remains back on American soil, there’s no grave site to visit.
“It was very hard on my mother, she never got over it”, said Norma Spurling.
Spurling never got to know her brother George Hout. The last time she saw him she was just a baby.
“My mother said he was just so proud of his baby sister, so he put me in the baby carriage and took me up town and showed me off to all his buddies”, she said.
Through letters he wrote and stories told by her mother, Norma learned her brother was a patriotic young man who entered the military right after high school graduation. In 1944 George Hout was a hump pilot in the Army Air Corp flying supplies to China from India over what was then the perilous hump of Japan.
“Which was a very dangerous route. There was ice that built up on the planes and they were always encountered with Japanese planes shooting at them", she said.
On September 24th he completed the mission and was almost back to his home base.
“That’s the last time he radioed in and that was the end of it, half hour away from home. Never heard from him again”, she said.
“She and her family have prayed every single day that he comes home and that’s a long time to be heartbroken”, said Annie Durost, State President of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Durost is helping oversee a project in remembrance of Hout and all the missing service members from Maine. A memorial, featuring bricks with the names, rank and service branch of every one of them. It will give families and members of the public a place to come, pray and reflect.
“We wanted it not to be just a symbol, we wanted to remind people there are names behind those that are missing”, said Durost.
Durost says with nearly 500 MIA/POW’s from Maine there’s likely one from your community, just like she learned from her friend, Norma Spurling’s daughter.
For Spurling, the wounds still feel fresh nearly 73–years later. The hope fades, but never completely diminishes.
“Supposedly he’s in the jungle there, someplace where he went down. I don’t think he’ll ever come home, I’m just being realistic about it, but yes I can still hope”, she said.
One year from now Spurling and other relatives will have a place to go to remember their loved ones. That’s when the memorial on the grounds of the American Legion state headquarters in Winslow is expected to be completed.