[r54] Former POW and WWII hero honored by House members: Saunders brings New Castle veteran to Statehouse (4/26/2011)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Start Date: 4/26/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/26/2011
Wayman Hoots was honored today for his bravery and courageous military efforts in WWII, during a ceremony presented by Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville).

Hoots, a war hero from New Castle, served in the U.S. Army. At 19, he was deployed to serve in WWII as an engineer and truck operator in Europe and North Africa.

While serving in North Africa, Hoots' company was forced to draw back from a mission, but nine men-including Hoots-were left behind. They soon ran out of ammunition, food and water for several days before they were captured by Germans.

The men were lined up in front of a firing squad, with German military ready to fire. At the last second, a German officer called off the firing squad. Saved from death, the men were forced to walk for several days-further depriving them of food and water.

They were eventually flown to a German camp, where they were held as Prisoners of War (POW) for 27 months.  The men were occasionally beaten and were given a single ration of food to be split between all nine men.

At home, Hoots' wife, Mary, was expecting their first child when she heard the news her military husband was a POW. Fortunately, during his imprisonment, the Germans allowed the POWs to exchange letters from home to show they were being descent to prisoners.

After 27 months, the men were set free. They set out on foot; crossed the Rhine River in a small boat and climbed a bank to stumble upon an American Army camp. Ten days later, they were flown to Miami and discharged.

He hitchhiked back home to Kentucky where he met his family-and was able to meet his daughter, Nell, for the first time. She was 2 ½ years old.

Within a year, Hoots and his wife moved to New Castle where Hoots got a job at Ingersoll Steel. He retired from that company 30 years later.

The couple still resides in New Castle. They have two daughters, Nell and Judy, and five grandchildren.

"I commend Mr. Hoots for his committed service to the City of New Castle, the State of Indiana and the United States of America," said Rep. Saunders. "His life is a testament of what it truly means to be an American and to fight for this country. His courage and willingness to defend our freedoms in the past, present and future serve as motivation for all Americans.

"Stories like Mr. Hoots' puts life into perspective. He shows us how important fighting for freedom is, and how it can quickly be taken away.

"This session we have had demonstrators from all over the nation who have come here to stand up for their beliefs. Further emphasizing how truly blessed we are to live in a country, where we are free to voice our opinion without retribution.

"Meeting people like Wayman Hoots puts that idea into perspective."

He spoke briefly today about his love for his country and family, and that even at 90 years old, he would still fight for his country today, in a heartbeat.

The full ceremony will be uploaded within the hour to his website at www.in.gov/h54.