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 (7685 Posts)


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwitterby feather

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • Additional Stories

    Reward Offered in Illegal Killing of Whitetail Buck

    November 14th, 2016
    by

    Reward Offered in Illegal Killing of Whitetail Buck     ORACLE, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation […]


    Pinal County Sheriff’s visit Simonton Elementary

    October 4th, 2016
    by

    The San Tan classrooms at Simonton had a special visit from Pinal County Sheriff’s Department. The officers described their roles, what […]


    OCTOBER 5 IS DEADLINE FOR ARIZONA TEACHERS TO APPLY FOR STEM MINI-GRANTS FROM APS, PHOENIX SUNS

    October 4th, 2016
    by

    PHOENIX – Time is running out for Arizona K-12 teachers in public and charter schools within APS’s service territory to apply for STEM […]


    No state highway construction closures over Labor Day weekend

    September 1st, 2016
    by

    No state highway construction closures over Labor Day weekend State, local agencies emphasize safe driving, planning ahead   PHOENIX – […]


  • Additional Stories

    Sun Life welcomes Nurse Practitioner to San Manuel

    July 20th, 2016
    by

    San Manuel – Sun Life is pleased to welcome Sharan Wieberdink, FNP to the organization’s San Manuel family health center. Ms. Wieberdink earned […]


    Fire at ASARCO Hayden crusher

    June 9th, 2016
    by

      Last Tuesday, big plumes of smoke billowed out of the crusher at the ASARCO complex in Hayden after sparks […]


    Resolution Copper Awards $30,000 in College Scholarships to Apache Youth Scholarships Designed to Inspire Hearts and Minds

    June 6th, 2016
    by

    PRESS RELEASE   Resolution Copper Awards $30,000 in College Scholarships to Apache Youth Scholarships Designed to Inspire Hearts and Minds […]


    Drunk Driver Flees, Collides with Ambulance

    March 28th, 2016
    by

    On March 27 at about 5:30 p.m., a 33-year-old Tucson man was chased by a Pinal County deputy for speeding on […]


  • Copperarea

  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • Southeast Valley Ledger

  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather