Flashback: The day a Korean War POW was reunited with his family in Atlanta

He dug graves and ate barely cooked grain. When he got home, his hometown threw a parade.

Crawford Love

Photograph courtesy of Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center

For 27 months, all Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Love of Polk County could do was worry about their son Crawford, a 25-year-old army private. More than 7,000 miles away, the avid hunter and fisherman had been confined in a Korean prison camp, where he watched guards beat his friends. The middle of seven children and an eighth-grade dropout who was shipped overseas right after basic training, he dug graves for fellow captives and ate barely cooked sorghum grain out of his helmet. The day before Labor Day in 1953, Love, who was released as part of a prisoner exchange, landed at Atlanta Municipal Airport, where he was greeted by his thankful family. His hometown threw a parade in his honor. He got the keys to a new car. But he was plagued by nightmares and had several run-ins with the law, until he met a woman named Joyce who finally helped him find peace. Love died in 1981. The Department of Defense says roughly 1,274 Georgians are still classified as prisoners of war and missing in action.

This article appears in our September 2018 issue.