Three Vietnam POWs Mark 40 Years of Freedom


"The amazing thing about hugging Peter was that the son-of-a-gun is stronger than I am I can't believe it," he said. "This kid that I beat up all my life is now strong and I can't believe this. It was wonderful because Peter was always just such a wonderful, loving younger brother and it was just great."

Two months after the last of the POWs came home, there was a studded affair on the White House lawn with President Richard Nixon for 591 of the prisoners and their families. Stars such as Sammy Davis, Bob Hope and John Wayne were all there to the honor all Vietnam-era prisoners of war.

Last Thursday, 187 POWs and their families gathered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum 40 years after that White House night to remember a time when brotherhood was everything, a time before the sacrifice in Vietnam became a distant memory.

"A lot of us only had five or six friends they can really count on in a tough situation," Gruters said. "We had 300 friends who we knew would take not just death for each other. Torture is much harder to take then death and we had 300 friends like that."

With faces changed by time, they remembered that song called, "The POW Prayer" that they sang at the first dinner so long ago. It was written by a fellow prisoner of war on a scrap of hidden toilet paper. Secretly, they learned it in prison as they dreamed of life, freedom and home.

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