DEAR ABBY: When you printed my letter about the thousands of former prisoners of war who had never gone to the Department of Veterans Affairs about benefits available to them, you touched many lives. It has enabled many former POWs and/or their spouses or widows to finally receive benefits due them. We American Ex-Prisoners of War have been extra-busy because of what you did.
Our work is all volunteer. The rewards come when we get letters like the one I'm enclosing from "Mrs. K." in Oklahoma.
Mrs. K.'s daughter talked with me about her father, who died 15 years ago. It turns out I was in the same German POW camps as her father. His best buddy and I could write nearly identical letters about our forced march in blizzard conditions in northern Germany in January 1945.
She told me: "I have four sisters. We all agree that this is the most excited our mother has been in a very long time. Words do not adequately express our gratitude."
Abby, if you would consider including Mrs. K.'s letter in your column, it would no doubt reach more World War II and Korean War POWs who need a nudge. -- FRED CAMPBELL, SAN ANGELO, TEXAS
P.S. Another nice thing you did was to forward a letter to me from a Ms. Moore in New York. She had seen my letter in your column and wrote to ask for help in locating someone who might have known her father, a bombardier/navigator who flew flying missions out of Assam, India. (Naturally, the plane's name was "My Assam Dragon.") Ms. Moore never knew her father. He died on his last mission in World War II. I put her in touch with the China-Burma-India Association.
She said in her letter that her father was part of a Moore family in Harrison County, Ky., going back 200 years. Well, my mother was a Moore -- and HER family came out of Harrison County, Ky., same era. So it's possible you have connected some kinfolks.
DEAR FRED: It's letters like yours that make writing this column a thrill. I'm gratified to know that we were able to help Mrs. K. from Oklahoma. I am frequently told that when I print a letter, the writer hears from long-lost friends and acquaintances. But in the case of Ms. Moore, I'd say 200 years is a record. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing Fred Campbell's letter. My husband has been deceased since 1986. He was a B-17 pilot during World War II and was shot down May 4, 1944. He was a prisoner of war until April 29, 1945, and the conditions were deplorable.
After reading the letter from Mr. Campbell, my daughter contacted American Ex-Prisoners of War for more specific information about the legislative changes regarding former POWs and special benefits available. Mr. Campbell followed up my daughter's inquiry personally.
For years before his death, my husband suffered from puzzling ailments. One of the most puzzling was bouts of swollen feet. Mr. Campbell recognized that as a possible symptom of ischemic heart disease.
Fortunately, my husband kept good records, and we had an autopsy done when he died. Those records enabled the VA to decide favorably on my behalf and determined that after all these years that my husband's death was, in fact, service-related. The additional benefits I am now receiving have helped relieve tremendous financial worries for me.
Had I not seen your column, I would not have pursued a review of my husband's records. You have provided a wonderful service to your readers. Thank you again. -- MRS. K., WIDOW OF AN AMERICAN EX-POW