Chevrolet Honors WWII POW at Camaro Drive-Away
July 26, 2011 2:45 pm ET
Guest blogger Don Crowder, Zone Manager, Chevrolet – New England, and his team honor World War II hero Ray St. Pierre and his son Jeff, a Vietnam veteran.
I met Ray St. Pierre and his son, Jeff, a Vietnam veteran, by chance on June 29 at a gas station car wash in Massachusetts. I noticed that they had a shiny, pearl white Malibu with a POW (prisoner of war) plate on the back. I walked up to greet them and thank them both for their service to our country. I made a special point to thank Ray for his sacrifices as a POW. At the end of our talk, I told them that I worked for Chevrolet. That extended our discussion a little longer.
Ray and Jeff had nothing but praise for their 2010 Malibu and the Chevrolet brand. A few weeks after thanking both men for their support of country and Chevrolet, I contacted them to ask them to be guest speakers at the Main Street in Motion event in – New England Chevrolet Zone Team program and Boston Camaro Driveaway. During the event, I introduced Ray and his son and recounted Ray’s part in the battle of Anzio that he had shared with me….
On January 22, 1944, the Battle of Anzio began. This was a fight to maintain position after 36,000 Allied troops landed nearly unopposed on a beach thirty miles south of Rome. Three days after the landings, the beachhead was surrounded by German Divisions.
Ray was one of approximately 200 American soldiers in his Recon Unit in the Anzio landing party in January 1944. He fought for several days against the Germans, as many of his fellow soldiers were lost. In February, against a mounting German force and out of ammunition, he and his remaining brothers were taken prisoner. Ray has a vivid memory of a German Soldier aiming a machine gun at him and saying, “the war is over for you.”
Ray was taken to Warsaw, Poland and placed in a prison camp where he spent 12 months serving as a POW, working on a German farm. During his 12 months he spent many days and nights taking cover from Russian artillery.
Finally, in the 12th month of Ray’s captivity, Ray, his fellow POWs and his German captors began walking. For two months they walked toward the Allied Lines. When they reached the allies, Ray and his brothers were freed and his German captors were relieved to surrender.
After telling this amazing story to the Chevrolet team, the 120+ present honored Ray and Jeff with a heartfelt, extended, standing ovation. As a small token of our appreciation for being a 2010 Malibu owner, we presented Ray and Jeff with a 1 year OnStar renewal, a 3 year Car Care, a 4-wheel alignment, a special emblem & license plate bracket honoring their military service, Red Sox tickets and a Chevrolet bag and shirt to commemorate the day.
We use the word “hero” in our business but it is only a word. On July 22, 2011, in Boston, Mass., we all had the honor and privilege of meeting a real hero.