Exclusive First: McCain and Brace — the Longest POW in Vietnam History — Describe the Secret Communication at the "Hanoi Hilton" Which Led to Life-Changing Bond
"[Brace's] story should be told to every American, about what love of country, about love of one's fellow prisoners and faith in God is all about. I don't know of a more compelling story that carries those lessons." – Senator John McCain
Locked Up Abroad Premieres Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 9 PM ET/PT on National Geographic Channel
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the longest POW in Vietnam history, Ernie Brace likely endured more than any other POW during the war. Held for almost eight years — from May 1965 to March 1973 — he faced capture, starvation, sickness, torture, solitude, desperation and more. Call him resilient and impressive. A survivor and true American hero. So says Sen. John McCain, who became lifelong friends with him during his own five-year internment in Vietnam.
Brace's harrowing firsthand account of captivity kicks off the ninth season of National Geographic Channel's critically acclaimed international hit series Locked Up Abroad on Wednesday, April 17, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (go to natgeotv.com/lockedupabroad and Twitter at https://twitter.com/NGC_PR). Details of his time as a POW include being marched more than 100 miles through harsh jungles, chained in a bamboo cage 24/7, attempting several futile escapes with subsequent beatings and being buried alive up to his neck.
After three-and-a-half years, Brace was transported from the Southeast Asian jungles to the infamous prison in Vietnam dubbed the "Hanoi Hilton," and finally heard the voice of another American in the next cell: Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, a Navy bomber pilot shot down over Hanoi.
McCain had spent nearly a year in solitary confinement and was desperate for human contact. Though they couldn't see each other, McCain and Brace began tapping messages secretly through the wall. If they were caught communicating, it was an instant beating, but they took the risk and soon shared everything imaginable. However, it wasn't until May 1973, just months after they were released and attending a White House reception held by President Nixon, that they would — at long last — meet face-to-face. McCain recounts, "A guy came up to me and I looked at him and he said, 'I'm Ernie Brace.' I went 'Wow.' It was such an emotional moment for me."
In this first exclusive in-depth interview, McCain and Brace describe their incredible stories, which led to a lifelong friendship. "[Ernie's] is an amazing survival story," says McCain, "an amazing story of heroism ... it should be told to every American."
Locked Up Abroad is a cult cable favorite known for taking viewers inside accounts of capture, incarceration and terror far away from home with intimate personal interviews and dramatic reenactments. This season, we'll hear the firsthand accounts not only of those who were locked up but also of those who were directly part of the story, such as the undercover agent compiling the evidence against the suspect or the person making the drug dealing offers.
Upcoming episodes include stories of Californian surfers arrested in Mexico after the shipwreck of their marijuana-filled yacht, who attempt to dig their way out of prison; a reptile smuggler who travels to Belize to avoid U.S. prosecution but is deported back home; and an English ecstasy dealer living the high life until he is caught by American police.
Two Additional Premieres include:
Locked Up Abroad: Snake on a Plane
Wednesday, April 17, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
(To Immediately Follow "Locked Up Abroad: Vietnam POWs: McCain & Brace")
"I elected to take the snake on the plane. Were there some apprehensions, yes! One bite means almost sure death. There's no question I made a lot of bad decisions." – Tom Crutchfield
Tom Crutchfield, an American carpet salesman living in Fort Myers, Fla., called himself the "Mick Jagger of the reptile industry." With worldwide operations, he successfully smuggled crocodiles, snakes, tarantulas and king cobras around the world. But when Special Agent Ernest Mayer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins building the case against Tom, the reptile rock 'n' roll time is about to fade. Tom discovers that he is about to be arrested and escapes to Belize. There, he believes he is free, but Belizean authorities arrest and imprison him. His new cellmates are sleeping on the floor, with no electricity, plumbing, toilets or running water in the cells. Yet when Belize officials deport him back to the United States, U.S. federal marshals are waiting for him.
Locked Up Abroad: Raving Arizona
Wednesday, April 24, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
"Dealing ecstasy was there if I wanted it. Hell yeah, let's do it. I'm feeling like a kind of god.
I'm above the law. No one can stop this. But boy, was I wrong. Now I'm dealing with the mafia. Here I was in one of America's deadliest jails. These guys are murdering someone in
front of my eyes. Game over." – Shaun Attwood
Shaun Attwood left his life in England to follow his dream and became a successful stockbroker in America. After moving to Phoenix, Ariz., he soon finds himself using ecstasy and decides to begin dealing the drug. He spends years living the "high life" as an ecstasy kingpin, with glamorous parties, women, expensive cars and a luxurious house. But when a local mafia boss takes offense, the door opens on a dark criminal underworld. Shaun retreats and goes back to being a stockbroker, but it proves to be too little too late when the police knock at the door. He's thrown in one of America's deadliest jails, and just when he thinks it can't get any worse he witnesses skinheads murdering someone in front of him. His act of defiance: starting "Jon's Jail Journal," a blog describing the unconstitutional conditions inside Maricopa County jails. Sneaking out the writing through visitations with his aunt, his site goes on to attract more than 850,000 visitors.
National Geographic Channel
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SOURCE National Geographic Channel