Former German Prisoner of War to Visit Muskogee, Camp Gruber and VA - Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System


Former German Prisoner of War to Visit Muskogee, Camp Gruber and VA

September 13, 2012

Former German Prisoner of War (POW) Frank Mays, who was held as a POW at Camp Gruber in Oklahoma during World War II, will make a return visit to Camp Gruber and also visit Muskogee Sept. 13-14.

In 1943, Corporal Mays and his German unit surrendered to the British during fighting in South Africa and was then transported to New Jersey by ship and then to Camp Gruber by train. He was held at the internment camp for approximately 12-14 months.

Mays will be accompanied by his niece, Patricia Powers-Simonelli, who has planned the trip as a surprise for her uncle’s 90th birthday present. Powers-Simonelli said Mays has often talked of his time at Camp Gruber and how he would like to see it once more.

“At Camp Gruber, he used his skills as an electrician to rig up lights that they used to put on skits.  He said that the leaders of the camp came to see what they were doing and found it very impressive,” said his niece. “He never stops telling us how well they were treated at Camp Gruber.  The general atmosphere didn't even make it seem like they were prisoners.”

On Sept. 13, Mays’ day in Muskogee will begin with an interview on Okie Country 101.7 followed by a Trolley Tour. He will then be treated to lunch at Miss Addie’s and then visit the War Memorial Park and Museum, which includes the USS Batfish. That evening, at 5 p.m., the Three Rivers Museum will host a reception for Mays and his family and the public is invited to attend.  Refreshments will also be served.

On Friday, Mays and his family will visit Camp Gruber. That afternoon, they will return to Muskogee and attend the POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center at 2 p.m.  The public is invited to attend this event as well.

For more information, contact Nita McClellan, Public Affairs Officer at the VA Medical Center, at 918-577-3704.