WEST NEWFIELD — Norman Mee,
of West Newfield, was honored with a State of Maine Silver Star
Honorable Service Medal at the newly-opened Maine Military Museum
and Learning Center in South Portland on August 30.
Mee was honored alongside other Maine
Several community leaders participated in the outdoor ceremony at
the museum. Governor John Baldacci awarded the medals to Mee and the
other medal recipients who attended.
Norman Mee graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1941 of Ethan
Stone High School in Newfield. He tried to enlist in the Navy at age
17, but the Navy refused to accept him because he was color blind
and had a hammer toe. At 18, he was drafted by the Army.
His infantry training took place in South Carolina, Tennessee, and
Indiana. In the beginning of November 1944, he and other
members of the 106th Infantry Division boarded an ocean liner
to England, where they were eventually sent to Ardennes to relieve
the Second Division. His 106th Regiment was spread over a large
combat area that exceeded the normal combat zone. In less than a
week, he and his comrades found themselves embroiled in the Battle
of the Bulge. He witnessed many deaths and escaped artillery shells
and buzz bombs. He, along with many fellow soldiers, were captured
by the German troops on December 18, 1944. They were taken by train
to a prison camp on the Polish border of Germany.
Because he was a private, Mee was forced to do work for the Germans.
He was moved to a primitive barracks with approximately 20 men. They
worked on repairing railroad tracks from sunrise to sunset each day.
Mee explained that their worst treatment came from the over-zealous
SS guards, who were only 14 or 15 years of age. They would appear
occasionally after raids and physically abuse the prisoners with
their pushing, poking, and hitting.
Mee recalled that the civilian railroad
manager of their work detail would point out to Hitler's young
soldiers that the prisoners would be of no value to the railroad if
they were dead. After several occasions of heated discussions about
the youths' desire to bully the prisoners, the older civilian in
charge was taken away by the youths and Mee never saw him again.
Life in the prison camp was rough. The men slept on bunks composed
of boards with straw. There was no heat or washing facilities. Mee
said it was one of the coldest winters in 50 years and the freezing
temperatures were difficult to endure. The daily ration was composed
of a seventh of a loaf of bread and a bowl of turnip soup.
Entertainment revolved around picking lice out of the seams of their
clothes. The prisoners would steal coal from the railroad and hide
it in their pockets to try and start a fire to keep warm.
When asked if the men were overwhelmed with feelings of depression
and hopelessness, Mee surprisingly responded that, on the contrary,
they felt lucky to be alive and not to have been tortured. He
remained at the prison camp until immediately before the war ended.
When the Germans realized that defeat was imminent, the men in
charge of the prison camp began marching the prisoners towards the
Americans. As they were being marched, several of the men, including
Mee returned to the United States in
June of 1945, and was honorably discharged from the Army in December
of 1945. For 23 years, he worked as a mechanical engineer at the
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
For quite some time, Mee never spoke about the war. He had no
contact with any of his war comrades, with the exception of his
former squad leader, who once wrote him from Ohio several years ago.
On May 15, 1998, Mee was invited by former Newfield Postmaster Wayne
Cadman to participate in a flag-raising ceremony at the West
Newfield Post Office when the POW-MIA flag was raised for the first
time. He and his sister, Agnes Winn, have participated in
wreath-laying observances on Veteran's Day in Newfield.
Mee explained that he has not been
interested in watching war movies as they would bring back some
graphic memories that would be too difficult to view. He has
displayed a keen interest in history and reading throughout his
life. People have given and loaned him books about the war and he
has enjoyed reading and studying the topic.
Norman Mee is known throughout the Newfield area for his willingness
to help others. Quiet and humble by nature, he has earned a
reputation for being able to fix anything over the years. He was a
recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award and the Prisoner of War
medal from the United States Army in March of 1989. After he
received the Jefferson Award, a majority of the townspeople of
Newfield rallied to honor him with a pot luck supper at the Line
Congratulations are extended to Norman Mee and all of the other
recipients of the State of Maine Silver Star Honorable Service
Other Maine Prisoners of War who received Silver Star medals at the
August 30 ceremony for their service in World War II include Sgt.
William P. Hancock Jr. of Cape Elizabeth; Sgt. Arthur P. Mills of
South Portland; Pvt. Richard R. Repp of Old Orchard; PFC Girard J.
Vaillancourt of Berwick; S/Sgt Norman J. St. Pierre of Old Orchard;
Sgt. Milton Cram of Kennebunk; Col. Harry B. Winger of Portland;
Thomas F. Hannan of Portland; Lionel G, Barbin of Saco, S/Sgt.
Chester R. Knowles of Scarborough; Lt. Col. Donald V. McDougall of
Scarborough; T/Sgt Frederick W, Gowan of Westbrook; T/4 William T.
Fossett of Gray; Donald H. Bosworth of Gray; PFC Alvin K. Hersey of
Kennebunk; and Robert J. MacArthy of Kennebunk; and Colby Davis of
Prisoners of War who participated in the Vietnam War and received
medals included CDR Robert S. Fant of Topsham; SP4 Andrew J. York of
Chelsea; CDR Allan Carpenter of Sanford/VA. Prisoners of War in the
Korean War who were honored were CT2 John W. Grant in Portland and
CTRCS James D. Layton of Cherryfield. PFC Joseph A. Paradis of
The Maine Military Museum and Learning Center is located at 513
Broadway in South Portland. To acquire a background of the history
and offerings of this museum, visit online at
For more information, call 207-650-8651 or send an email to
nampowfriendnetscape.net. (Insert @ after "friend")
courtesy photo Norman Mee returned to the
United States in 1945 after serving in the Army during World