WINSLOW — Norma Spurling was about 1 year old when her brother, a pilot in World War II, disappeared.

George Hout, who grew up in Bar Harbor, was responsible for flying supplies over “The Hump,” a nickname given to the eastern end of the Himalayas, between India and China.

The mountainous flight was extremely dangerous, and it was stormy the night of Sept. 24, 1944, when Hout was flying back from China to his base in northeastern India.

He radioed in about a half-hour from the base, but something happened in that half-hour. He never made it back to base and was presumed dead a year later.

Hout was 20 years old at the time and was known as a good kid — an Eagle Scout, a member of the church, a good student.

His sister, Spurling, said she grew up with Hout despite losing him when she was so young.


“My mother talked about him all the time,” she said. “She never got over it.”

Now 74, Spurling goes to visit her brother’s grave often at the cemetery in Bar Harbor, where she still lives in the family home her father built.

Hout’s name will be one of 479 on a new memorial in Winslow dedicated to Maine service members who were prisoners of war or went missing in action, often designated by the acronym POW/MIA.

The American Legion’s Department of Maine, which includes the Legion itself, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the Legion and the Legion Riders, held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon at its headquarters on Verti Drive, off Augusta Road, in Winslow. Friday also was National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

“I think it’s wonderful that they’re doing something to commemorate all of the POWs and MIAs in Maine,” Spurling said. Her mother was active in the American Legion Auxiliary, and Spurling joined when she grew up.

Ann Durost, statewide president of the American Legion Auxiliary, said the organization hopes to finish the memorial within a year. The legion family will raise money to place a brick for each missing Mainer, listing the person’s name and the conflict and branch in which he or she served.


An empty chair installed in May at Bangor International Airport, along with a display board listing the names of Maine POWs and MIAs, was the first instance of all POW and MIA service members from Maine being honored together in Maine, according to a story in the Bangor Daily News.

There were 480 names until Thursday, when World War II veteran Alberic Blanchette’s remains were brought home to Caribou.

The majority of missing Mainers served in World War II, and the remainder served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“Everyone knows the universal symbol, but we tend to forget that there are names and faces and families attached,” Durost said. “We need to remember that these are people, and not just a symbol.”

The first National POW/MIA Recognition Day was observed in 1990, and there have been more than 140,000 American prisoners of war and 83,000 missing service members.

The memorial is intended to be a lasting tribute and a reminder of their sacrifice.


“They are not just a symbol,” Durost said, adding later, “They are our heroes.”

Representatives for U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King also spoke at the ceremony, emphasizing that the memorial is one way to ensure that those people are never forgotten.

“We set aside this day to honor those who fought for freedom and saw the worst of war,” said Michelle Michaud, representing Collins and reading from a letter from the senator.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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