Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the passing of fellow Vietnam Prisoner of War (POW) Ernest Brace:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend and fellow POW Ernie Brace. As the longest-held American civilian prisoner detained for nearly eight years in Vietnam, Ernie endured more cruelty and severe torture than any other captive during the Vietnam War.
“While serving as a civilian pilot for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and assisting Laotian Special Forces United during the war, Ernie was captured by communist forces in Laos in 1965 and held prisoner in the jungle for three years under some of the most horrific conditions imaginable. In 1968, Ernie was moved to the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison camp in North Vietnam in which we shared neighboring cells for over a year. Ernie and I relied on tapping code to communicate and distracted each other from the horrors of imprisonment by sharing stories, telling jokes and reciting movies each Sunday. While Ernie and I would not meet face-to-face until an event at the White House in 1973 – nearly four years after our first communication in Hanoi – we developed a special bond that strengthened us both at a difficult time, helping us to survive together.
“Serving with Ernie was one of the greatest privileges of my life and I am forever grateful for his friendship. As a recipient of the Prisoner of War Medal and two Purple Hearts, Ernie was a true American hero whose bravery and sacrifice for this country had no bounds. My thoughts and prayers are especially with Ernie’s wife Nancy, sister Rose Bradford, four sons, and eight grandchildren. May we always remember Ernie by his love of country, commitment to fellow prisoners, and faith in God above all else.”