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Vietnam POW tells his story
A prisoner from a different war shared his story in Okaloosa County. General Ed Mechenbier was held captive for six years in North Vietnam.
Laura Hussey "Here at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, General Ed Mechenbier spoke at a conference presented by defense contractor BAE Systems"
Mechenbier was shot down in 1967, on his 80th mission over North Vietnam.
Ed Mechenbier/USAF Major General Retired "I'm hanging there in a parachute, and there's a hundred people down there shooting at me. I haven't even hit the ground yet. That's scary"
At the infamous Hanoi Hilton, interrogations meant a torture called the "rope trick". Shoulders dislocating, breath coming in gasps, he refused to give the north vietnamese anything they could use.
Mechenbier "You can do a lot more, the body can do a lot more, physically and emotionally than we ever give ourselves credit for being able to do. People look at my experience and say Oh, I could never do that, I wouldn't survive a day. Well, I didn't volunteer. I wasn't specially trained. We never know what we're really capable of doIng until we're tested"
When the prisoners were told they were being released, Mechenbier says there were no cheers. They didn't believe it was real.
Mechenbier "It's scary, you kind of get comfortable....it's a quality of life as a POW, not a good one maybe, but you're comfortable in it, and you can survive"
Of the controversial Bowe Bergdahl, Mechenbier says their stories aren't similar. He likes to think at some point, Bergdahl wanted to leave and wasn't allowed to, making him a prisoner.
Mechenbier "Probably be polite and just say....I wish him well whatever it was, and if he needs contrition, fine. If he needs forgiveness, that's our way"
Laura Hussey "If you're interested in more of General Mechenbier's story, you can find it in a book about his life called "Life on a Five Dollar Bet".