Andy Ramotnik served his country with distinction during World War II. He survived his plane being shot down and he survived captivity at the hands of the Germans.
Now, he wants the money he’s owed by the Department of Defense — all $13 of it, to be exact.
According to WTLV-TV, the 94-year-old Ramotnik lives in an assisted living facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Seventy-four years ago, however, he was a 20-year-old mechanic and radio operator on a B-25 Mitchell bomber. He flew 42 successful missions, but on his 43rd run — on Oct. 4, 1943 — his plane was shot down.
“The right engine took a hit,” he remembered. Ramotnik and the rear gunner tried to escape through a floor hatch, but it initially wouldn’t open. “I stomped on the hatch, without my parachute on. Nothing,” he said.
After jumping on the hatch, he got it to open and parachuted down into German territory.
“I looked down watching the airplane go down and hit the ground and it burst into flames,” Ramotnik recalls. “When I hit the ground I heard somebody say in English, ‘Hands up!’ Then I saw two German soldiers come out with a pistol and a rifle and I thought, ‘What happens next?’”
He spent 19 months as a POW. He made one escape attempt and was recaptured. He escaped again and was dodging German soldiers trying to make it back to American lines when the war ended in Europe in May, 1945.
After the war, Ramotnik received a check for $554 from the government. “I got a letter from the War Department,” he said. “It reads, ‘You’re getting paid a dollar a day for every day you’re a POW.‘”
However, he had actually spent 567 days in captivity.
What accounts for the difference? Unbelievably, the War Department refused to pay Ramotnik for the days he spent on the run from his Nazi captors. That’s right — they took 13 bucks from a POW for escaping. And you wonder where Joseph Heller got his material.
Of course, Ramotnik doesn’t need the $13. Heck, one hour of minimum wage work in some selected American cities whose governments don’t understand basic economic principles could earn him that.
It’s the principle of the thing.
“It reads that if I’m captured I will only give my name, rank and service number,” Ramotnik said. “But it also says that if I am ever captured I will make every effort to escape and help others to escape.”
“I’m paying a penalty?” he added. “Why? I did good.”
Now, he says he wants an answer or $13. We think he deserves both. It certainly wouldn’t break the budget, and a man like Andy Ramotnik deserves more recognition from our government than an hour’s work at a Jack-in-the-Box in Seattle.
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H/T Task and Purpose