European Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives Dec 12 1999, Page 43

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European Stars and Stripes (Newspaper) - December 12, 1999, Darmstadt, HessePace 4 stars and stripes sunday sunday december 12, 1999 Vietnam from Page 3 commissioner on the Federal Trade commission. Retired Navy cmdr. Jame Stockdale another sex prisoner was Perot s vice presidential running mate in 1992. Several went on to top com Mand positions in the military while others became successful doctors lawyers businessmen schoolteachers and local Legisla tors. Many Are celebrating three decade wedding anniversaries. Few express anger or bitter Ness at anyone including their former captors. Alcoholism depression and other such Mala Dies Are strikingly condition stands in particular contrast to that of former korean War pos who Al though spending less time on average in Captivity have had a far harder go of it since the came Home. In All 7,140 gis were held in korean Camps and 2,701 of them died Many of those returnees have led productive lives in the ensuing 40-plus years they generally remain gripped by a deep anger at their treatment by both their captors and their govern ment As Well As by a lingering misplaced stigma that they some How failed their country during their would say from both wars Vietnam and Korea most of the individuals who have re turned made families and had jobs and Overall assimilated Fine into society said Alan Marsh a specialist at the National prisoner of War museum in Anderson Ville difference i see is the attitude toward their experience. There s just a lot More bitter Ness among the korean War vets that no one cares about us no one even knows about us " Marsh have identified other reasons their fates War pos were usually 18 or 19 years old drafted into the army fresh off the farm or Small town minimally trained and educated and ill prepared for the mental torture prac tired by their communist captors. The also served under an inflexible code of conduct that branded any thing they said beyond name rank serial number and Date of birth Asa betrayal of their country and were generally left to their own devices after their repatriation. The bulk of the Vietnam War pos about 472 were Navy or air Force fighter jocks selected for their risk taking personalities Confidence intelligence and leadership skills. On average they were 26 years old or older had at least some College Educa Tion received survival trainings part of their combat preparation and were Wise to the ways of communist mental manipulation. The army gis however were More demographic Auy similar to the korean War pos and had tougher time than the pilots. American film foundation Scripps Howard news service air Force capt. Ron Bliss is greeted by friends and family on his return to the United states in 1973 after being held As a pow in North Vietnam. Returned pos talk about the extraordinary inner peace that blossoms after they have confronted the worst the world can offer and come out whole. Which allowed them to break without being branded traitors As Well As from the heroes Wel come and structured support they received when they came stood on their shoulders said swindle 62, an sex Marine Pilot who was shot Down on veterans Day 1966 and spent the next seven years in an Assort ment of prisons of the Korea War pos he considers heroes. But even though they were better prepared and brought More internal fortitude to their ordeals the Vietnam pos still suffered mightily. Most broke arms legs and backs when they were shot Down juries left untreated by their Cap tors. Sometimes they Underw Entas much As 18 consecutive Days of hideous favorite was the rope trick i which captives limbs were bound tightly in number of unnatural positions after which they were hoisted aloft beaten and left to hang for hours or Days with their joints popped out of their sockets and Bones broken. They played tetherball with us As the Ball said sex Navy capt. Gerald Coffee 65, a survivor of 2,670 Days in prison who now is a motivational speaker based in lost one Quarter of their weight thanks to a sparse diet of watery soup and Rice fouled by rodent fees and bugs. Boil covered their bodies and they Evan Elle Scripps Howard news service a myriad of Memorabilia can be purchased from a protest Booth near the Lincoln memorial in Washington . The Sale of merchandise goes to maintain records of prisoners and missing soldiers. Equally frightening was the fear them to be exceptionally Well bal of Disho Noring themselves and their now their bodies show far less lasting damage than might be imagined. A 20-year study of their medical condition by the naval health research Center in san Diego concluded in 1996 that they weren t in much worse shape than a control group of other aviators who never were returned prisoners suffer from More arthritis and other danced vibrant Humble and mostly free of negative psycho logical never had a Nightmare. Don t even think i Ever even dreamed about that miserable place said retired vice adm. Edward Martin 68, a pow for 2,065 Days who went on to com Mand the sixth credit much of their resilience to the social support they gave each other in Captivity. Through a secret code tapped on joint disorders than the compari their cell Walls they badgered son group As Well As from Perma each other to stay Strong. A Ternent nerve damage in their sex torture they nursed each other fell prey to assorted illnesses. All however benefited from a they lived with constant fear relaxation of the conduct code that they were about to die. To empties. They also Are beset with thinning Bones largely a result of the poor nutrition they received for so Long. But they Are no More Likely to suffer from heart disease cancer High blood pressure or ulcers All diseases believed to have at least some connection to More remarkable is their emotional health. That study along with subsequent research Back to pow came close to death when he contracted tetanus and was unable to Chew food for months his Roommate chewed it for him and despite his own hunger made sure his ailing Comrade got More than he did. Ask a returned pow what he credits with his successful survival then and now and hell Tell you it was his Reliance on Faith by Henman and Ambrose found in himself his family god and his country. Dig a Little deeper and hell Tell you about the extraordinary inner peace that blossoms after you have confronted the worst the world can offer and come out whole. Even More liberating they say is the equanimity that comes from facing your deepest fears and failings and accept ing and forgiving them along with those of others. They re Quick to attest to being Ordinary mortals still beset with their share of human frailties. Mccain for instance is now being knocked for his temper. Fellowes whose self deprecating humor is a hallmark of Many sex Vietnam pos allows As How i still get upset about a parking place but not for the absence of bitterness is striking. Retired air Force col. Don Heiliger for example shows no anger when he de scribes How his first wife divorced him while he was in prison and How his three Chil Dren from that marriage know him More As a Distant Uncle than a father. Heiliger who remarried had three More kids became an International marketing executive and is now a four term county supervisor in the Madison wis., area considers himself an extremely fortunate Man with nothing to complain about. Ron Bliss a former air Force Academy graduate who gives some of the most chilling accounts of his 78 months of Captivity in the return with Honor documentary echoes the same undimmed appreciation for what so Many of us take for granted life said Bliss who has been married 34 years has two sons and is a High powered attorney at one of Washington s top Law firms is email Lisa Hoffman at Hoffman sons. Com

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