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When I saw Ray Weiner's wife at the grocery store, I didn't know that she would be
indirectly responsible for starting an entire chapter in my book. She was driving her
husband Ray's 1990 gold Chevrolet pickup truck with 4 US POW (for United States Prisoners
of War) on the plates.

Ray is a firefighter who has been involved in the prisoner of war issue. He also is an
inveterate license plate collector. I never knew that there was such a thing as a license
plate collector. During the last two years he has had five related vanity type plates
issued to his truck. he has also had eight special event plates issued to it in the last
three to four years.

He also told me that there is a convention where license plate collectors regularly get
together to show off their collections. The next one is in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I never
knew... Will the revelations never end? As the self-appointed expert in the field of
vanity license plates, is it my duty to attend collectors' conventions? I'm not an expert
on collections, just on the meanings of the plates. Nevertheless, experts always show up
at conventions, even if the convention is not exactly their specialty. I like Chattanooga.
I like conventions. There will probably be some great stories there. Maybe I'll go. Next
thing you know they'll have me collecting these things.

Ray sent me several pictures, and he sent a letter describing his collection. He said:

"Enclosed is the postcard you gave my wife today. I have been collecting license
plates for about four or five years. I have a complete collection of Illinois plates from
1911 to present plus a 1909 and 1910 dashboard disk which was issued before plates in

After becoming involved in the POW (Prisoners of War) issue (I'm a Vietnam Veteran) I
decided to collect Ex-Prisoner of War license plates. I have collected one EX-POW plate
from each state. Alaska, Utah, Delaware and Rhode Island are the most difficult to get. I
had to send over 1,000 letters to get the plates I now have. In addition to the 50 state
run I have about 18 EX-POW vanity plates...

I have about two dozen Purple Heart plates from different states, and six Congressional
Medal of Honor plates."

Ray has the first and only 49-state collection of EX-POW vanity plates. He won first place
in the "Special Theme Display" category at the International Convention in
Peoria, Illinois in June 1992. He sent pictures of them. He also sent the following vanity
plate pictures:

POWWW11 - California - (Prisoner of War World War Two)
POWW2A - California - (Prisoner of War World War Two Army)
68 POW - Illinois - (Year in Viet Nam POW)
POW MIA - Idaho - (Prisoner of War - Missing in Action)
1 VN POW - Illinois - (1 Viet Nam POW)
POW 36 - Illinois - (POW's 36 (unknown))
94 POWS - Illinois - (94 Illinois POW's left)
POWS W8 - Illinois - (POW's wait)
4 POWS - Illinois - (For POW's)
POW MIA - Mass. - (Prisoner of War Missing in Action)
5ND POW - Illinois - (Find POW's)
PWX331 - Michigan - (Prisoner of War X (331 at random))
PO15 - Texas - (Texas EX POW Plate with low number)
DAV POW - Wisc. - (Disabled American Vet - POW)
GOHPOW - Wisc. - (Initials of former POW)
POW JPN - California - (POW - Japan)
IM X POW - Utah - ( I'm an EX-POW)

Since Ray was kind enough to give me so much information on this subject, it occurred to
me that perhaps other people with special licenses (i.e. Purple Heart, Congressional Medal
of Honor, etc.) might like to be included in this book. I started asking people with these
plates. Here are a few responses.


©1994 by Dennis R. Cowhey
All rights reserved.
Library of Congress Number: 94-96301 Guest Post