BRIDGEPORT - Gov. Jodi Rell declared Friday POW-MIA Recognition Day to honor soldiers who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing.
Cpl. Andrew Mirola is one of those soldiers. Mirola, of Bridgeport, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and spent time in a German war prison during World War II. "We held out for five days and we finally had to give up," he says.
Telegrams were later sent to Mirola's parents informing them that he had been captured by the Germans on Dec. 21, just five days after the Battle of the Bulge began.
"On Christmas Eve, I was in a boxcar with a bunch of other guys and a German soldier was singing 'Silent Night,' " he says.
The Bridgeport veteran still has a pocket bible, given to him more than six decades ago, that he credits with helping get him through the time he was captive.
"You didn't know what day it was, so I made a little calendar ? put the days down as the days went by," Mirola says.
In March 1945, more than four months after his capture, Mirola was rescued. "I always said the guy upstairs must have been looking out for me - from the day I got into the service until the day I got out," he says.
The 88-year-old Mirola says he doesn't think of himself as a hero, and rarely thinks about the months spent locked up in a WWII prisoner's camp.
"I've lived through it," he says. "It was tough and I just feel sorry for the guys who didn't make it and for their parents."
At least 39,000 soldiers from Connecticut have been prisoners of war or missing in action.