POW celebrates 40 years since release

Posted at: 03/13/2013 6:34 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Photo: Juan Jacquez
Photo: Juan Jacquez

A party 40 years in the making is about to happen in Santa Fe. It will commemorate the release of a Santa Fe man who was a prisoner of war. He doesn't like to talk about it much. But today he decided to share his story with KOB Eyewitness News 4.

"Three years, ten months and so many days- I just say 4 years."

Juan Jacquez was captured in South Vietnam on the Cambodian border. For Jacquez that's where the nightmare got started. He bounced around a few POW camps before he was marched for days from Cambodia to the Hanoi Hilton. Days that blurred from one to the next.

"You just sit there in that corner and you stare at that light up there and then you start thinking back. Going to a drive-in and getting a burger. Doing something. You just day dream," Jacquez said.

Jacquez said that he doesn't like to spend much time thinking about Vietnam. He considers it a nightmare that he woke up from nearly 40 years ago. He always believed that he'd make it home alive.

"A person doesn't realize what they can go through until the time comes that they have to go through it.

In this picture you see Jacquez just moments before he realized that his bad dream was finally over.

"It really wasn't exciting until the pilot said we just left Vietnam air space- Then that's when I knew I was coming home."

If you'd like to help Jacquez to celebrate his 40 years of freedom, the Santa Fe Elk's Lodge is throwing a free dinner and dance on Friday night from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Jacquez will be there with his wife and family. The public isn't just invited, they're encouraged to attend.