HOWLAND - Larry Prince has a way of pushing Pete Teringo's buttons.
The two World War II veterans never knew each other when both were captured in Europe in 1944 and held as prisoners of war at the same time.
It wasn't until Prince's daughter married Teringo's son that the unusual common ground became clear.
Larry Prince, 87, right, watches an airplane fly overhead while sitting on his front porch in Howland with Pete Teringo, 90. Both are World War II veterans and former prisoners of war.
Since then, Prince, 87, and Teringo, 90, frequently share the memories of serving their country.
Often Prince will get Teringo started and jog his memory about something, and then the two are off recalling the days gone by.
Both widowers now are living in the same senior citizens complex, hanging out together trading war stories and discussing family matters like last week's birth of their first common great-grandchild.
Jerry Teringo of Howland married Karen Prince in 1980.
The couple has three daughters, including their eldest, Sarah Williams, a teacher at North Road Elementary who gave birth last week to Ethan Michael, her first child and the first great-grandchild that the vets share. He joined the family at 3:48 p.m. Wednesday, weighing in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
Williams and her husband Michael, also a teacher, live in the Howland home that Teringo helped build.
This Memorial Day brings mixed feelings between the birth of the newest family member and the death of Teringo's wife, Anna Mae in 1997, and the loss of Prince's wife Phyllis in 2006.
While the two were captured and even held in close quarters as POWs during World War II, they never knew one another until the were united through the marriage of their children.
Next week the two will act as honorary guests and co-starters for Ohio Police and Fire Games 5K run and one-mile walk in Warren. The event will benefit the USO of Northern Ohio and veterans will be honored at a special ceremony.
Cpl. Teringo, in the Army infantry, was captured Nov. 15, 1944, near Metz, France, and held for a short time at the Stalag XII-A in Germany, known for its notoriously bad conditions. He was released in May 1945.
Tech Sgt.Prince, who served as a radio operator and gunner in the Army Air Corps, had been captured after his B-24 was shot down outside of Vienna, Austria, just one month earlier, in October 1944. Unknown to them at the time, he was held in close proximity to Teringo around the same time, until April 1945.
Prince recalled being freed after the arrival of Gen. George C. Patton complete with his leather leggings and pearl-handled pistols.
Growing up in Fayette City, Pa., Teringo, the father of four with five grandchildren and now his first grandchild, remembers well the Nov. 15, 1944, mission when a buddy in his unit was hit by shrapnel near Metz, France.
''He was bleeding from the head pretty bad, and we were trying to get back to the aid station for supplies. We were going under this barbed wire when they caught us,'' Teringo said.
The next six months is like a blur, he said. ''I forget a lot, but I want to forget.''
''It all happens so fast. I just wanted to go home,'' said Teringo, who was first taken to Stalag XII-A in Limburg, Germany, known for notoriously bad conditions since it served as a transit camp that processed newly captured POWs before distributing them to other more organized stalags in Germany.
The population was always high in Stalag XII-A, where prisoners were herded into circus-sized tents where they slept on cobbled stone or straw and back-to-back in cramped conditions. Since there was no furniture and stays there were normally brief, prisoners rarely got the life-saving Red Cross parcels.
At some point, Teringo was moved to Stalag II-A in Neubrandenburg, which had 50 subcamps surrounding it. He was finally liberated May 9, 1945, when a Soviet armored division arrived.
''I wanted out of there since they were telling us we'd end up in Siberia,'' Teringo said.
He recalls finally arriving home before anyone in his family knew of the ordeal, only that he was missing in action.
''I got to this beer joint in town and the owner asked if I was one of those soldiers who was missing. He told me he had beer out back and to help myself,'' said Teringo, who still vividly remembers the look of disbelief on his father's face when he pulled up in the driveway after a friend drove him home.
Being part Slovak, Teringo, who moved to the Warren area in the 1950s to become a builder and contractor for Warren Engineering, said he didn't mind some of the sauerkraut he was served in the stalag.
But Prince, who has six grandchildren and now seven great-grandchildren, said he can't stand sauerkraut to this day.
In fact, even though it was on the New Year's Eve menu at the El Rio Restaurant that he took over and ran after his parents started the business, Prince still refused any sauerkraut.
Prince had suffered burns when his B-24 was shot down on a bombing mission targeting oil refineries outside of Vienna, Austria. He parachuted behind enemy lines. It was his 33rd mission. After the war, he went on to obtain his private pilot's license.
''Our plane got it right in the nose, in engine No. 3 and near the bomb bay doors. It was breaking into three pieces, and it was time to hit the silk,'' Prince said.
Unlike Teringo, Prince did get the benefit of the supplies from the Red Cross and Salvation Army, including food, clothing, soap, toothpaste and a wooden toothbrush, that he would eventually fashion into a crochet hook.
His oldest granddaughter Sarah Williams, a teacher at North Road Elementary, said she remembers the story of the crochet hook that turned into a blessing for Prince.
''He traded socks for a sweater and they took the yarn from the sweater to make my grandfather a knitted cap with flaps. It even had his name woven into it,'' she said.
She said the cap served the purpose of keeping him warm and securing the bandages covering the burns on his head.
''I still have that cap in a shadowbox frame and I take it to my class on Veterans Day to show the students and try to get through the story without any tears,'' Sarah said.
''I'm kind of a grandpa kind of girl. They're both my heroes. Grandpa Pete is a little more secretive and Grandpa Larry talks more about it. But put them together and you can get a lot of information,'' she said.
Today the two veterans, who live in close proximity, also share the same barber.
''It's tough getting anything out of Pete. But Larry, he'll go on forever about the war,'' said Mike Sanders at Mike's Barber Shop on Niles Cortland Road. ''It's like neither one of them wants to brag about what they went through. But it must have been something.''
Teringo's son Jerry says it took some prodding from Prince and his granddaughters before Teringo started opening up.
''Growing up I never met a POW. Then I meet my wife, and it's just part of the family. Now, you can take two minutes to ask either one of them a question, and they take 10 or 15 minutes to answer it,'' Jerry Teringo said.
Whether the family is cooking out at Sarah's Pheasant Run Road S.E. home, gathered at Prince's villa on Independence Drive or Teringo's assisted living apartment at Shepherd of the Valley, the two war heroes continue to re-live what they lived through.