COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Emmy award-winning journalist, best-selling author and University of South Carolina graduate Rita Cosby is in town this week to accept an award on behalf of her father, Richard.
Rita did not know much about her dad until she found some of his old belongings in 2008.
"I'll never forget this moment, I'm going through a storage locker, and I see this old tan battered suitcase I've never seen before and inside was essentially my father's life, the father I didn't really know, and it had a worn, torn, and bloody fighting arm band, a rusty POW tag, then a card with his name on it, and when I saw this I thought, 'Oh my gosh this is my father,'" said Rita.
Since that discovery, Richard has opened up, sharing his story of service in Poland during World War II. Father and daughter traveled back to Poland together. For the first time, Rita got to hear of her father's fight to survive in a German POW camp.
"I didn't feel guilty," said Richard. "I thought this was my destiny, and then I thought why? Why me?"
But Richard did survive and he remembers the exact moment he found out he was going to be free again.
"We tried to figure out why a guy in a plane dropped one chocolate for 100 men, that's like teasing you a little bit, but inside the ribbon was holding a message, there was a message in English, welcome, you can safely approach our lines, there are no German defenses anywhere near and it's only a distance of about 15 miles and you are going to be free," said Richard.
It's a story Rita says is the most important one she'll ever tell, one that should remind all of us of the bravery it takes to serve.
"I feel like anything we can do not just as journalists but as Americans to help these incredible brave men and women I feel we have to, we as Americans need to support them," said Rita. "They are fighting on the front lines, putting their lives on the line, like my dad did."
Rita documented her father's story in her book "Quiet Hero." Ten percent of the book proceeds go to Operation Enduring Freedom. On Monday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Rita will do a special presentation and booksigning in the Ernest Hollings Library on Greene Street.