POW: Former Ray resident featured in National Geographic documentary

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NatlGeoCapture0001.jpg

ECB Laos 1964.jpg

Ernest Brace, Laos 1964

By Lee Juillerat

Regional Editor

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Ernie Brace’s book, A Code to Keep, is powerful, riveting and intensely moving.

When he speaks about his seven year, 10 months and seven days as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, it’s impossible not to be impressed by his resilience, and wonder how he survived the often brutal ordeal.

But when he showed an unfinished version of a docudrama, Vietnam POWs:McCain and Brace, for friends at the Klamath YMCA, including several who’ve read the book and heard him talk, the visual impact was shocking. When it was over, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

The film is part of the National Geographic Channel’s Locked Up Abroad series that will open it ninth season at 9 p.m. (6 p.m. Arizona time) , Wednesday, April 17. A premier showing is set for April 9 in Washington, D.C., as part of POW Recognition Day.

Brace, who has lived in Klamath Falls since 1989, terms the film a “good representative story” of his years spent mostly in solitary confinement in intentionally harsh conditions.

The McCain in the title refers to John McCain, the senator from Arizona and unsuccessful 2008 presidential candidate. Although they never saw each other until 1973, the made contact by tapping in code and whispering through walls while being held in the Hanoi Hilton, the North Vietnamese’s infamous prison.

Brace and McCain narrated their stories in London last October. Brace said his storytelling was culled from nearly 20 hours of filming. Filming with actors was done last December and January in Thailand.

The film begins with the two men, who had never physically met each other, meeting at a 1973 White House reception for American POWs, which Brace remembers as highly emotional.

In his narration McCain tells, “We made it, Ernie. We did,” and in comparing their times as POWs says of Brace, “It makes my experience look like a day at the beach.”

The film doesn’t hold back from the abuses both men suffered, especially Brace, He was tied, beaten, strapped inside a bamboo cage, taken to face a firing squad and, after a second escape attempt, buried in the ground for a week with only his head exposed, which left him partially paralyzed. It also recalls the time Brace, feeling mentally defeated, attempted to commit suicide but passed out while trying to strangle himself with a rope.

He was later taken to Hanoi and, after initially fearing he was being tricked, responded to McCain’s tapping, first contact with another American in nearly three and a half years. Through their illegal communicating, Brace and McCain developed a unique friendship, one that continues. McCain was later transferred to another prison and eventually spend five and a half years as a POW. AQs in the film, their first-ever face-to-face meeting was emotional.

Brace said the transfer to Hanoi, especially after his failed suicide, gave him hope.

“They’re keeping me alive for some reason because they’ve certainly had enough reasons to kill me and drop me,” he remembers thinking of leaving the jungle.

Brace, like others, believe the 1973 release of American POWs and the stories they told about their treatment helped change public opinion of much maligned Vietnam veterans.

“When the POWs came home and after listening to POW stories, the anti-war sentiment ended,” he said, expressing hope the docudrama “will make people more aware of what the POWs went through in Vietnam.

“This is,” Brace believes of McCain and Brace, “a story of overcoming the odds, of perseverance.”

Editor’s Note: The above story was reprinted with permission of the Herald and News.

ECB March 1973-Clark AFB.jpg

Ernest Brace,Clark Air Force Base March 1973


Kuwait91.jpg

Ernest Brace, Kuwait 1991


HallofHonor2010 cropped.jpg

Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor Induction in 2010. Ernest Brace is pictured top far left.

admin (7655 Posts)


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Stories Just Posted

    Workers Struggle in a Mining town

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    T T T he towns of Clifton and Morenci, Ariz. are located in Greenlee County. The Morenci Mining District in 1903 would become the site of labor unrest that would lead


    Kearny originally declared ‘hostile, uninhabitable’

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    Pinal Nugget Kearny’s roots began in the 1800s as legendary Arizona explorer Father Kino sought to convert the Apache Indian communities in the area to Christianity.


    Visiting Badger Springs and Agua Fria National Monument

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    A A A gua Fria National Monument was established by executive order in 2000 and at 70,900 acres contains over 400 archeological sites and four major prehistoric settlements.


    Getting Lost in the Copper Corridor

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    Can you guess where in the Copper Corridor this photo was taken? If you guessed Oracle, then you would be correct.


  • Stories Just For You

    Medical marijuana grow facility in Oracle?

    March 17th, 2015
    by

    San Manuel Miner On Feb. 18, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors voted to amend a text of the county zoning ordinance regarding open cultivation of medical marijuana.


    CCEDC offers leadership training to local residents; deadline to apply Feb. 27

    February 17th, 2015
    by

    Copper Area News The Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition is looking for local residents to step up into a leadership role in local communities.


    CAHRA provides weatherization program

    February 10th, 2015
    by

    Community Action Human Resources Agency (CAHRA) has funding to assist eligible low-income homeowners in Pinal County with weatherization, according to Mary Lou Rosales, executive director.


    SunZia receives key federal permit to build transmission project

    January 27th, 2015
    by

    PHOENIX, AZ (January 24, 2015) – The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project received a “Record of Decision” (ROD) today from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its proposed transmission project


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather