In his 19 months as a prisoner during World War II, Orby Ledbetter wore a single pair of clothes and survived on rutabaga soup and bread made from sawdust. The 6-foot-tall soldier from Breckenridge, Texas, weighed a mere 95 pounds when he was released.

For years, his family said, the things he saw during his years in the 36th Infantry Division were difficult to discuss.

Mark Rosenberg reports on rural community life for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to

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Mark Rosenberg writes about rural community life for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. He covers Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca, and Refugio counties. Questions or tips? Contact: or call 361-574-1264.

(2) comments

Vanessa Hicks-Callaway

Hitler and his Nazi regime were on their way to brutally annihilating the Jewish people and spreading socialism across Europe during WWII. One man, WWII POW and Veteran Orby Ledbetter, and many others like him, now known as the ‘Greatest Generation,’ stood in the way and said “No, I don’t think so!”

Now all freedom loving Americans owe Orby and others like him a huge debt of gratitude. I met Orby and had the honor of him personally telling me about his military service which included details about the time he was held prisoner in a German POW camp. I clung to every word and the way he shared it was especially intriguing. He was kind, modest and humble. Orby even blessed me by autographing and giving me a copy of the book his grandson, Clayton Reinecke, wrote about him called ‘A Hero to Many.’ It is a rare treasure I will cherish for the rest of my life.

May Orby Ledbetter now rest in peace. God knows he has earned it and so much more. May we who remain, who continue to benefit from Orby’s selfless service, respect his magnificent legacy and that of the ‘Greatest Generation’ of WWII by always remembering him.

May we never forget, as has been said many times, that “we are the land of the free because of the brave.” Thank you for your service Orby.

johnny stafford

One of the greatest generation.

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