BRIGHTON - While working as a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber during World War II, Staff Sergeant Phil Daily and his plane were shot down over Italy. He was taken to a prisoner of war camp in Poland before being forced to march more than 600 miles to Germany.
"At first, we never talked about being a prisoner or being in the war at all," Daily said. "We just didn't want to think about it."
Daily endured harsh conditions as he was among thousands of American soldiers forced to march 600 miles to Germany to avoid advancing Russian forces. During that time, he faced starvation and watched many of his fellow solders die.
"We hadn't washed or anything for months and even time during the march all we had was potatoes," Daily said. "I got sick of potatoes and I didn't eat anything for three days."
Despite all that he had been through, Daily never received recognition by the government for his time as a POW. Two years ago his family contacted Major Franklin Huffman who researched and documented Daily's time as a prisoner as they petitioned for a POW medal.
After two years of little progress, according to Daily's family, Congressman Mike Coffman stepped in and finally got the government to award Daily his medal. Coffman, a veteran himself, made the official presentation. Though it is 72 years late, the 91-year-old veteran says he is grateful.
"I didn't even think it was important, but it is really wonderful because we didn't even talk about that even for years," Daily said.
© 2017 KUSA-TV