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  • Writer's pictureWarbird Coffee

National Museum of the Mighty Eight Air Force: POW Tom McGory

To pass the time as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft IV, T/Sgt. Thomas J. McGory created an embroidered handkerchief that was emblematic of his time as a flight engineer and top turret gunner in the 489 th Bombardment Group (Heavy). This video recreates one of McGory’s

experiences as he stitched an American flag. Before leaving on the forced march the prisoners called the “Shoe Leather Express,” he tied his handkerchief around his waist and got it home. It had served its purpose by giving him something to occupy his mind during a very tough time as a prisoner.


Following his wartime service, McGory became Assistant Athletic Trainer at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in September 1949 and shortly after became a Certified Athletic Trainer. In September 1965 he became Assistant Cornell University Baseball Coach, a position he held

for 22 years. Then in September 1967 he was appointed Head Athletic Trainer at Cornell. He worked at Cornell for 34 years and was the only athletic trainer who covered three varsity sports – football, basketball, and baseball. He retired in 1983. After Tom’s death on June 24, 2007, the Joseph P. King Memorial Award was presented to his family. “It is a tribute to deceased alumni and friends who made outstanding contributions to the proud tradition of Cornell Football.”


Tom McGory’s POW story is On Exhibit at the National Museum of theMighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, GA. Thank you to the National Museum of the Mighty Eight Air Force for sharing this video and story with us.



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