POW Ben Pollard

Ben Pollard got a lot of mail his last week in prison, as many letters as he’d received in the preceding six years combined: four. – No matter that they dated to 1968, .and this was 1973. ; That sort of conduct “made (the iNorth Vietnamese) wonderful enemies,” said Pollard, an Air Force ‘major when his F-105 was shot down ;in May 1967, on one of his earliest icombat missions. “The torture and ‘maltreatment and starvation their stupidity was the best thing they did ;for us.” Pollard, now 50, is an executive of la new long-distance telephone service in San Diego. His stepmother, Mrs.

Lloyd Pollard, lives in Shelby-ville. His father died three weeks before it was discovered Pollard was alive. ; After repatriation. Pollard returned to the Air Force Academy in Colorado as a deputy commandant for flying programs. Then he directed an academy prep school for disadvantaged youngsters, until retiring, a colonel, two years ago.

When he thinks of having been a POW, he says, “It’s like it happened to someone else. It doesn’t seem real anymore. I guess a healthy mind gets over those things.” Pollard had been severely injured bailing out of his plane. Paralyzed from the waist down because of a broken back, he was subjected to torture in the afflicted area. Eventually, he received medical attention, though hardly the quality to which Americans are accustomed.

“They performed surgery in cells filled with rats and mice,” he said. “They had Russian drugs, up to five years out of date.” At 6-foot-3, Pollard said his weight dropped to 130 pounds. “A couple of times I wished I could have died,” he said, “but that’s the first step toward depression, which is caused by the weaknesses of self-pity and hatred. Boy, do I dislike them, but I don’t hate them.” Pollard may have been luckier than some of the returning POWs. He and his wife, Joan, said they seemed to pick up about where they’d left off.

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