Grover C. Mullins, of Windsor, was awarded a certificate on Saturday from the Missouri State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution for being October’s Patriot of the Month.
He was born July 31, 1920, in Houstonia. At the age of 17, he moved to Windsor, where he still resides today. To aid his country during World War II, he joined the Army Air Force when he was 22. From June 1942 to October 1945, Tech. Sgt. Mullins was assigned to the 303rd Bomb Group, 358th Bomb Squadron. He arrived at the Eighth Air Force base in England in August 1943.
His eighth mission was on Nov. 26, 1943. It was a wintery day, 67 degrees below zero, when the nose section of his aircraft was shot off. For his gallant service to save the airplane and the lives of the remaining crew, he was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award.
His citation, in part, reads, “During the bombing run, his aircraft was subjected to fierce frontal attacks by enemy fighters. A cannon shell shattered the Plexiglas nose of the plane, killing the navigator, seriously wounding the bombardier and knocking out the oxygen supply lines on the right side of the aircraft.
Sgt. Mullins quickly removed the wounded bombardier from the nose compartment after administering first aid to him, secured emergency supplies of oxygen for his comrades who were without oxygen and furnished them with additional ammunition. Having accomplished this, he released the bomb load, then made his way to the cockpit.
Upon finding the co-pilot unconscious, he revived him, thus enabling him to assist the pilot in handling the crippled bomber. In addition to performing these self-assigned tasks, Sgt. Mullins found time to man his guns and assist in warding off repeated attacks. Mullins said this was one of his worst missions.
On his 13th mission on Jan. 11, 1944, he and his crew were shot down and taken prisoners by German forces. He was 23. He spent the next 16 months in Stalag-XVII-B, Krems, Austria. Between 20,000 to 30,000 Americans, Italian, Russian, French and English soldiers were in the camp, which had no heat during the winter. Breakfast consisted of black bread, which was brought into camp in a wagon pulled by a team of horses.
The Germans would take a loaf and cut off 2 inch square pieces for each prisoner. Mullins said it was hard and tasted like a piece of wood. The noon meal was watered soup and there was no evening meal. Water ran for only 30 minutes each day from randomly placed spouts throughout the camp.
Prisoners were deloused in hot showers once a month. Toilets were outdoor privies. Each barrack held 300 to 400 soldiers with eight people per bed. The beds were double in length, double in height and placed only four feet apart.
Prisoners of war received a Red Cross care package once a month, minus cigarettes and sugar, which the Germans had removed. The prisoners were allowed to mail one postcard to their family each month. During his confinement, his family received very few pieces of V-mail. Three feet deep trenches were dug around the camp. Both Axis and Allied forces bombed the prison, however the Allied forces did not do it intentionally.
In March 1945, Mullins went on the last “death march.” He and his fellow soldiers were liberated in France on May 3, 1945. They were taken to the nearest seaport, where they set sail for home and arrived two weeks later.
His medals include the Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, Legion of Merit, American campaign, Air Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
Mullins and his wife, Joan, have two sons and three grandchildren. He is the owner and operator of an appliance store. He is a life member of the American Legion, American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Purple Heart Association and American Ex-prisoner of War organizations. He also is a member of the Moose Lodge, Odd Fellows Lodge, Stalag 17B and charter member of both the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
He is proud to be honored on brick walks at the World War II Museum in New Orleans, the Clinton Square in Clinton and the Windsor Museum.