LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Some people call them members of the greatest generation. To many, they're veterans of the world's biggest war, and to all of us they're American heroes.
Monday, one of them, a man from Arvada was recognized for his service and survival.
During his 91 years, Sergeant Frank Dechant has seen so much. And he's and survived what we have a hard time imagining.
"I felt like I could crawl inside my helmet, several times," he said, describing World War II.
Monday, Dechant, with his family, his wife, son and many more, received the Prisoner of War Medal. The honor comes 69 years after Dechant withstood a Nazi POW camp after he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge.
"These are things I remember I don't think I've told anybody," said Dechant.
The honor was given to Dechant by U.S Representative, Ed Perlmutter. Perlmutter's office says Dechant and his unit were captured in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. They were liberated in April 1945 after a two-month, forced march ahead of the Soviet advance into Germany.
Dechant's emotion was clear and so were his words just moments before the ceremony, recalling the nightmare that was his reality during the war.
"You'd lick the bald heads (of fellow soldiers) to get moisture, because you were so dry that anything like moisture would taste good," he said.
He watched tens of thousands of men, not make it.
"I've seen a lot of comrades die there of either diarrhea or dysentery," said Dechant. "They'd just fall over dead."
But Dechant's story is one of the good ones. Because he's here so will be generations more, with is name. Dechant was born to a farming family in Antonino, Kansas, and moved to Denver during the Dust Bowl. After the Army, he married, had four sons and worked for Golden Motors Ford.
His take on how this makes him feel is perhaps simple, as well as sweet.
"I guess honor," he said. "It's great."
Dechant has received several other honors for his service including the Bronze Star, the Good Conduct Medal -and the World War II Victory Medal. The POW Medal wasn't created until 1985.