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Bethune woman accepts late father’s WWII POW medal

Posted: June 27, 2014 1:41 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.
David Shanes/U.S. Army

Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker (left), Fort Jackson commanding general, thanks Stephens for her father’s service during the June 5 ceremony.

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U.S. Army Pvt. Adrian D. Watkins served during the last years of the war, 1944 and 1945. Dropped behind enemy lines, he was later captured during the Battle of the Bulge, serving as a prisoner of war.

Nearly 70 years later, the late soldier’s daughter, Lenora Stephens of Bethune, accepted his country’s thanks for his service and recognition of his imprisonment during a special ceremony at Fort Jackson on June 5. Stephens received her father’s Prisoner of War Medal at Fort Jackson’s 3rd Battalion, 34th Regiment Basic Combat Training graduation ceremony.

“My father died before Congress passed the law creating the medal,” Stephens said several weeks before the ceremony.

Congress authorized the creation of the medal and it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

Watkins served with Company C, 422nd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 106th Division. According to WW2POW.info, Watkins was held in Germany at Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg, after the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Russian troops liberated the camp in April 1945. He was one of 8,414 POWs held at Stalag IV-B.

Several family members accompanied Stephens to the ceremony, including her husband, Jim, a retired sergeant first class; and her grandson, Marine Sgt. Casey Lee Stephens.

(Photographs and some of the information for this story were supplied by the U.S. Army via the Fort Jackson Leader.)

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