Former prisoner of war tells her story at Mount Vernon veterans home

A former prisoner of war from Boliver, Missouri shared her story of survival on Thursday at the Missouri Veterans home in Mount Vernon.

“For 25 years I tried to forget my upbringing in a prison camp, and then I realized that wasn’t happening because something every day would remind me of it,” says Georgia Payne.

Georgia wrote a book about the three years she was a prisoner of war in a POW camp in the Philippines. Georgia says she was just 12 years old when her family received a knock on the door from the Japanese military.

“I had no idea what an adolescence would have been like because I went from 12 to 25 overnight.”

Georgia says she lived in a single room with about 35 other women and when she was fed it wasn’t pretty.

“They watered it down, thinned it out, and gave us rice that had been full of weevils, and dirt, and came off a mills sweeping full,” says Georgia.

That made her appreciate food from liberation from the camp onward.

“I understood when she said ‘clean your plate off, every last morsel’, because they practically starved them to death in the camp,” says Georgia’s son, Lendon Payne. “Towards the end people were dying every single day.”

Georgia told us she’ll never forget the first calvary who rescued her and her family from the camp.

Georgia says she hopes anyone listening to her story takes away a new found appreciation for their freedom, “and who provided that for them, the veterans – all veterans, whether they were in the Pacific area or the European area.”

Georgia says speaking with veterans and writing her book is all a part of helping to educate the public about what life was like for civilians ‘Caught in the Crossfire’ of war.