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« on: September 25, 2004, 06:02:04 PM »

Former POW: Communication, Encouragement Key to Survival During Captivity

by Chad Groening
September 24, 2004

(AgapePress) - A retired Air Force pilot who spent nearly eight years in a North Vietnamese POW camp says his faith in God helped him through his long ordeal.

Col. Smitty Harris was shot down in April 1965 and became the sixth American prisoner of war of the Vietnam conflict. The Tupelo, Mississippi, resident remained a prisoner of the North Vietnamese until February 1973. Harris says communication with fellow POWs -- many of whom were placed in solitary confinement -- was a key to survival.

Smitty Harris
(Compliments of StolenHonor.com)  
"It helped create good morale," Harris recalls. "There's just no end to the value of that communication."

How did they communicate? "I had learned a tap code and shared it with the other POWs -- and it was used throughout the rest of the time we were there," he says.

The former POW says using that tap code, the POWs were able to encourage each other about things that were important. "It started out with a belief in God, a belief in our country, a belief in our countrymen, a belief in our military associates, [and] finally [a belief in] our families and good friends back stateside," he says.

The esprit de corps among the prisoners, he adds, included a belief in following the chain of command as well, something Harris says they were able to establish as well through their communications processes.

Harris is one of 17 former POWs appearing in a new video titled Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, which investigates how John Kerry's anti-war activities prolonged their incarceration in Vietnam. (See related article)



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