The POW-MIA Museum, based at Jefferson Barracks in South St. Louis County, has received a large donation to complete renovations at its facility.
Museum director Paul Dillion told The Missourian the Home Depot Foundation in September was awarded a $24,000 grant to cover construction materials. Home Depot also will provide volunteer labor.
“In February, we were introduced to Home Depot District Manager Steve Esparza, who after a tour of the restoration/renovation work being done at the museum offered to include the museum in the scope of veterans projects being done by the Home Depot Foundation,” Dillion said.
“They offered to provide the material and labor. We of course readily accepted.”
Dillion said in June they submitted the official project funding request to the Home Depot Foundation.
“This Friday, Oct. 18, Home Depot will begin what we hope will be the final major construction push (minus the HVAC installation) to get the first floor of the museum operational,” Dillion said.
“All are invited to be on hand on Friday to welcome the Home Depot team.”
The Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum is the only one of its kind in the country because it focuses on telling the stories of both POWs and MIAs.
The museum is located in the circa 1890s Officers’ Quarters Building located in the Jefferson Barracks Historic District.
Dillion explained the mission of the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum is to reverently honor all who served the country in any branch of the United States military, who were captured by enemies of the United States, or who are missing in action, from any year and from any conflict.
The museum also strives to raise awareness of the numbers of captured Americans who returned alive, those who perished in captivity, and those service personnel missing or who have not yet been returned for the homage they deserve.
For more information on the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum, visit jbpow-mia.org or write to them at JB POW-MIA Museum, P.O. Box 67, St. Charles, MO 63302-0067.
There are currently 82,143 men and women listed as Missing in Action from U.S. conflicts throughout the years, and Franklin County is the only county in the nation to honor them in a unique way.
Part of that museum’s mission is helping cities and, now, counties become designated POW/MIA counties. In the past, nearby cities like Fenton, St. Ann and others have received the designation.
In February, by official proclamation by board members of the St. Louis POW/MIA museum, Franklin County was designated the first POW/MIA county in the nation.
Now, signs are posted at every entrance into Franklin County alerting motorists of the POW/MIA designation.
Dillon’s father was a POW in World War II. He was shot down over Germany in October 1943, captured by German civilians and eventually turned over to the Nazis and was a POW for 20 months in Stalag 17B.
Dillon joined the Stalag 17B group as a next of kin member. The chapter has since folded, because some of the POW-MIA members, including the late Dutch Borcherding of Washington, have passed away.
Dutch was a POW in Germany for 16 months. After the war, he was sports editor for The Missourian.
In September 2016, the St. Louis POW/MIA chapter was deactivated due to lack of members.
The American Ex-Prisoners of War was created in 1942 and the Missouri chapter was issued its charter in 1979.
The official deactivation of the chapter took take place during a POW-MIA recognition ceremony at the POW-MIA Museum at Jefferson Barracks in South St. Louis County.
At that time, the flags of the state POW chapter were donated to the POW-MIA museum and a final salute will was performed as part of the official deactivation.