(KFVS) - Missing in action during World War II, this Heartland Hero shares his story for the first time.
Tim Mouser fought in the Battle of the Bulge, a battle during which some 19,000 Americans were killed.
Mouser survived, but was later captured by the Germans.
"You could look out across the fields and just see people laying everywhere. Dead," Mouser said.
To most that fought there, the Battle of the Bulge was a lasting memory from World War II. But for Tim Mouser, it was just the beginning of his story. His unit was assigned to build a bridge, but the Germans had other plans.
"They surrounded us at night and started shooting through the truck," he said. "They shot holes all through it. We was laying on the floor and my buddy says, 'we got to get out of here. We got to go.' I said, 'no, I'm not moving.' He took off and they shot him."
The Germans took Mouser and the rest of his unit prisoners.
"It was probably about six months or somewhere in that neighborhood," he said.
Mouser was a prisoner in a German camp. Individual camp layouts varied, but all were surrounded with barbed wire. Guard towers were manned by German soldiers ready to shoot anyone trying to escape. Prisoners were given two meals a day, usually consisting of a thin soup and black bread.
"They wore the same clothes for six months," Ida Mouser, Tim's wife said.
He prayed for a rescue. Finally, the Russians showed up and freed him. But his nightmare wasn't over yet.
"He doesn' t know what they walked for about two to three months to get to Warsaw," said.
Two to three months in the dead of winter, Mouser and others walked from Stallag to Warsaw, Poland; roughly 200 miles.
"And they told him not to sleep in a building's second floor because they were burning buildings as they were going through," Ida said. "People fed them along the way, and if they found a building, they slept on the first floor."
The news Mouser had been waiting for came: he was going home.
The 19-year-old kid who went off to war not knowing what to expect, came home an unlikely hero with a story that would inspire generations to come.
"Makes me proud that I have the same name," one of Tim Mouser's son said.
There are now five generations of Mousers that have served or are serving our country.