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Thread: A former POW remembers

  1. #1
    Regular Member
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    Apr 2007
    , , USA

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    With Veteran's day coming up this weekend I thought I would share the following with you.

    Last Wednesday night I had a once in a lifetime experience.

    As many of you know I am a Scout Master.

    From time to time we have joint activities with the young men and young women youth groups at our Church.

    We had one such activity last night, and as luck would have it, the Scouts were charged with supplying the inspirational speaker.

    We had been wondering for some time who we could get and then one of my Scouts suggested that he had a Grand Uncle, who might come and speak to us.

    This Grand Uncle is Jay Hess, who was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and spent 6 years as a POW. First at the Hanoi Hilton and then in Dog Patch.

    A bunch of teenagers and a few adults sat for an hour and listened to this quiet un-assuming man, who shared a deeply touching message with us.

    He had joined the Air Force during the Korean war, and trained as a pilot, but the war ended as he was completing his training.

    He loved flying fighter planes and then in 1964 the Vietnam War started.

    He had flown some 35 missions when he was finally shot down.

    He said he might have made it back, but after his plane had been hit, he wanted to get out of there fast and so he hit the after burners. His plane was flying fine until then and this ignited a fuel leak and turned his plane into a ball of fire, from which he had to eject.

    He talked about how he was captured and became a POW.

    He talked about those he knew there and some of the things they went through.

    He talked about the faith he and his 3 roommates had that saw them through.

    He talked about how Freedom is not free, and how any day that you have a door knob on your side of the door is a good day, or any day that someone does not tie your hands behind your back and then pull them up and over your head and down until they tie them to your feet in front pulling your arms from their sockets, using what they called "the rope trick" is a good day.

    He finished with the following story;

    In 1972 the war and the bombing escalated and he and some of the other prisoners were moved from the Hanoi Hilton to a place they called Dog Patch.
    This was out in the country and they had no electricity in the small stone structure where they were held. There were 2 larger rooms where most of the men slept, that had kerosene lamps for light, but they did not have room for 2 of the men to sleep in these rooms.
    2 men had to sleep 1 in each of 2 small closets. There was no light or lamps in these closets and so as they lay alone, when they slept there they hoped that what crawled across their feet was rats and not cobra's and what crawled on their bodies was Misquotes and not spiders. They took turns sleeping alone in these closets.

    They were given soup to eat, with some rice and to try and get some light he started to skim small amounts of oil off the top of his soup and save it in his spoon. He took some threads from his shorts and made a wick and dipping the wick in this oil he hoped to have a small oil lamp, but the guards would not light it for him.

    Finally he convinced them it was only for light and they did light it and he had this tiny little light.

    Staring at that tiny light, all alone in that tiny dark closet, the words of the old hymn came to him, "The Lord is my Light, then why should I fear, by day and by night, his presence is near...." This helped him keep his sanity in those darkest of days.

    For me, it really puts things in prospective.


  2. #2
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Lynnwood, WA, ,

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    We owe a lot to our veterans, and their service is appreciated.

    I make a point to thank any soldier I meet for protecting my freedom. Because of the brave men and women that volunteer to serve in our military, I live in the only time in history that the country can be at war, while I stay at home and get married. I can start a family and go about my day enjoying my freedom, while these people fight for me. I am only free because they have the courage to volunteer for a job that I would otherwise be forced to take. I don't take that for granted, and I hope I'm not alone in thanking these heros for doing what they do.

    This weekend, I hope you can all go out of your way to thank a soldier or a veteran soldier for your freedom. And if you are a soldier or a veteran soldier, I hope that you can take pride in knowing that you are personally responsible for the fact that we live in a still free country.

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