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The portrayal of a real hero.......
on May 5, 2003
Former marine pilot Ernest C. Brace was employed as a U.S. contract pilot for USAID, flying in Laos supporting Vietnam war efforts, when his airstrip was overrun by enemy forces in May of 1965 and he was taken captive.
In his initial 3 years of captivity in Laos, Brace would be held alternately by Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese troops. Suffering inhuman conditions and being caged like an animal, he would end up attempting 3 daring escapes earning him brutal beatings and subsequent injuries that would affect him the rest of his life.
Upon being transferred to North Vietnam, Ernest Brace would continue his last four and a half years of imprisonment in the Hanoi Hilton, Plantation, and Briar Patch prison compounds. While confined in these locations, though not obligated to do so, he honorably followed the U.S. serviceman's code of conduct earning him the respect and admiration of all the American prisoners he was with.
Although never tortured like other POW's, Brace would risk this many times as he became a major junction for communications between prisoners which helped boost morale and also heightened resistance to captors. Offered early release due to his civilian status, he declined with the intention of only going home when the sum total of American servicemen were also released.
Upon repatriation from Vietnam in 1973, after almost 8 years in captivity (four and a half of those years in solitary confinement), Brace would find his return triumphant and bittersweet at the same time. Learning that his wife had remarried during his imprisonment and spending a full year in hospital visits to repair his injured body, he would eventually find success, happiness, and prosperity in the years to follow.
Ernest C. Brace, the longest held civilian POW of the Vietnam war, is a true American hero in every sense of the word and is an outstanding example of how patriotism, loyalty, courage, and inspiration are brought out in a person. So much so that he was awarded the highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense for his actions during confinement in Vietnam.
A Code To Keep is a well written and remarkable narrative on POW captivity and comes highly recommended to everyone.