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"Bob' Hannum, ex-POW, restaurateur, dies at 73

Robert A. "Bob" Hannum, a World War II bombardier who survived friendly fire and a POW camp, has died at age 73.

Mr. Hannum died Thursday (July 18, 1996) at home while preparing for a July 28 gathering of POW buddies, said a daughter, Nancy Thornton. She said the cause of death apparently was a heart attack.

Shot down in 1944 near Leipzig, Germany, he was seized after a grueling bid to evade Nazi troops. And capture brought unexpected danger: The boxcar carrying him and other prisoners was in a train strafed by U.S. planes near Munich. A dozen men were killed.

He and the survivors of the attack were imprisoned for 190 days. The forces of Gen. George Patton liberated them on April 29, 1945.

After his B-17 crashed, Mr. Hannum became separated from the rest of the crew. Alone, he walked 154 miles in 15 days. For food, he found four potatoes and made them last a week. Then he came across a carrot patch.

"I climbed a fence and dug up six, and then a big dog came at me," Mr. Hannum recalled in an interview at the Clearwater Beach Hilton during the 1990 national convention of American Ex-Prisoners of War.

"So I went back over the fence _ and found I only had two carrots left," said Mr. Hannum, a past commander of the organization's Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. "Those lost carrots almost broke my heart."

Nearly starving _ he lost 36 pounds during the trek _ and with badly swollen feet, he stumbled into a police station.

"The officers were nice until the Gestapo man came," he said. "Then they acted distant."

Questioned by the Gestapo, he refused to answer, he said.

"The Gestapo man put a gun to my head, and I said, "Ho, ho, ho.' That humiliated him in front of the police, so he hit me with the gun, knocking out a tooth, and left me lying on the ground."

After the war, Mr. Hannum remained in the reserves until 1956. He came to St. Petersburg in 1957 from Media, Pa., where he was a construction foreman. Locally, he built boats and worked as a frame and trim contractor. From 1968 to 1973, he owned the 300 Grille restaurant in St. Petersburg.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Florence; three daughters, Nancy Thornton, Bowling Green, Janice Sue Robertson, St. Petersburg, and Dale Jean Bustillo, Springfield, Mass.; a son, Robert Jr., Golden Valley, Ariz.; a sister, Doris Wagner, Tucson, Ariz.; and six grandchildren.

Grave-side honors will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Bay Pines National Cemetery. John S. Rhodes, East Chapel, St. Petersburg, is in charge of arrangements.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Florida State Chapter, American Ex-Prisoners of War, 544 Oak Island Circle, Plant City, FL 33565.

_ Information from Times files was used in this obituary.