An Army sergeant from Roseau spent five harrowing days lying wounded in a trench in Korea, a captive of enemy soldiers who apparently did not expect him to live through his ordeal.
While Duane Broten waited five days to escape from his captors, he waited six decades to receive the Prisoner of War service medal that was finally presented to him by U.S. Sen. Al Franken at the Minnesota Capitol Sunday.
A mix up in his military records denied Broten the recognition he deserved. Broten, who is 80 and now lives in Princeton, received a purple heart but only recently became aware that there is a medal for prisoners of war. Now that his records have finally been corrected, Franken presented his medal to Broten in a ceremony witnessed by family and well-wishers.
He began to read the remarks he'd prepared for the occasion, but the Pioneer Press reports he was overcome with emotion and turned them over to one of his sons.
Broten, an uncle to three hockey-playing brothers who made names for themselves in the NHL, was wounded in the second battle of Pork Chop Hill in Korea in 1953. The Star Tribune has details of the incident, which left him bleeding from 27 shrapnel wounds. He drifted in and out of consciousness and stayed in the trench because he was unable to march to a POW camp.
After his escape, Broten needed six months of rehab before eventually returning to Minnesota. The loss of a finger and reduced vision are among the physical scars.
Broten served in a conflict sometimes called the Forgotten War, but Sen. Franken said Sunday he was grateful to play a role in allowing the country to mark the sacrifices he made.