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Ellis Allen

Captured at Kunu-ri Pass on Dec. 1, 1950, Ellis Allen remembers what he heard next: “We will not harm you. You are a prisoner of the People’s Volunteers.”

For six weeks, the Chinese marched “Big Al” and his group north, stopping at the Suan mining camp and then Pukchin-Tarigol, known as Death Valley.

“That’s where we lost people, every night,” Allen says. “They’d come through there with a sled. Arms and legs would be hanging off it.”

At Camp 4, the Chinese segregated prisoners by race. Allen remembers being taken to the headquarters in the middle of the night and asked, “How can you be so proud of your country when you’re not a first-class citizen?” He replied, “I’m proud enough,” adding that he’d treated his German prisoners right during World War II and expected his captors to do the same.

After his release, Allen re-enlisted in the Army, serving with the 2nd Armored in Germany – but only after checking a map, he says. He didn’t want to be anywhere close to communists.

View more Korean War POW stories