In celebration of the Memorial Day weekend and the air show a special Warrior Call was held May 24 at the Landing.
The guest speaker was Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jay Hess, a former POW of the Vietnam War; he spent 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton; a prison that had been built by French colonists and was later used by North Vietnam for housing POWs.
Hess began his talk by recognizing those with whom he had served.
"With the Memorial Day weekend coming up I want to take a second to pay tribute to the guys I served with, and particularly those who didn't come back," said Hess. He also thanked those who currently serve.
Seven hundred people were held as POWs during the Vietnam War and 113 died while in captivity. While Hess knows these numbers well, he believes that the count is not accurate.
"I don't think anyone has quantified the tears, quantified the blood, quantified the sweat and the sorrow," said Hess.
Hess then went on to tell the story of his capture.
He ejected from his F-105 after his plane had been hit, and said that during the parachute ride down he "fell asleep." When he regained consciousness, he was on a trail. It was there he was captured and taken to the Hanoi Hilton.
During his time there, he was interrogated and tortured by his captors. But through all of this the internees managed to keep in contact with those on opposite sides of the prison walls.
"We used a tap code to communicate by tapping through walls," said Hess. "It's what kept us together."
Their daily rations consisted of a bowl of rice twice a day and occasionally a bowl of soup which they called "Swamp Green Soup." Hess went on to explain how after eating this day after day for five years it made him realize that variety is the spice of life.
Hess gave the recipe for the swamp soup:
"Take dandelions, boil them in water and you have swamp green soup," he chuckled.
The conditions at Hanoi Hilton were worse earlier in the war, Hess described it as a horror, like screaming in the night, irons banging and men crying.
He went on to tell stories of his fellow POWs during his time there including one man named Jerry who on some occasions pretended he was riding his motorcycle confusing their captors.
Hess described the relief of release day when they were all freed from the prison. He said it was shocking to see real color for the first time in years and although it was 5 years for Hess, he said that some of the men had been in Hanoi Hilton for more than 9 years.
He described his homecoming. He said he couldn't believe how good he could feel or realize how important and amazing freedom really is.
When Hess returned home he later went on to help establish the ROTC program at Clearfield High School and served as the instructor there from 1973-1995.
Hess finished his talk by summing up his experience," I went in a fighter pilot and came out an American."