Vietnam POW from Brunswick was a hero to his family (Ed Flora)

During five years in prison camps, Sgt. Ed Flora survived a disabling gunshot wound and kept to himself all the information that North Vietnamese interrogators beat him regularly to get, said his daughter, Teresa Flora LaFratte.

After her father’s death Sept. 15 in Arizona, LaFratte shared some details of his life and Army service, because she thinks the world needs to know what he and others like him did for their country.

“He was very private about what happened to him,” she said. “In Dad’s case, it was too painful to even remember.”

She urged him to write down his military and personal history so his grandchildren could know more about him. He drafted it for the family, and made her promise not to use what he wrote for a book, she said.

What she read as he wrote over the years shocked her, she said, but he would not speak to her about any of it.

“Hero doesn’t explain him,” she said after reading the account. “I had tears rolling down my cheeks.”

Flora produced a detailed narrative of his life, which began in Brunswick in 1941. He gave himself low marks for his personal relationships, but not in his military performance. LaFratte described him as a thrill-seeker.

His story is peppered with much “blue” language, she said, and a wry perspective on the choices he and his captors made.

In the spring of 1967, Flora completed several dramatic patrols and ambushes in Vietnam that had won his platoon the name Flora’s Fighting Fools, and earned him a Bronze Star. For his last mission that year, he received a Silver Star for “gallantry and intrepidity in action as a prisoner of war,” according to the citation.

On a mission to rescue a downed pilot in July 1967, Flora was shot in the right arm. An M16 rifle round entered at his wrist, destroyed one bone and exited at his elbow.

He was being hoisted into a rescue helicopter when the enemy shot through the line that held the seat, dropping Flora to the ground. His fall was broken some by the dense jungle canopy, LaFratte said.

The world stood still

“I became a guest of the (North Vietnamese),” Flora wrote.

Within hours, he escaped for the first of several times over the years. The longest he was free was two days, he wrote.

In his early attempts, when his wound was open and vulnerable, Flora used maggots to prevent infection, LaFratte said.

Each time he escaped, he correctly assumed guards would catch up with him and beat him, he wrote. One time, a squad of female warriors found him first, and their brutality was worse, so he was glad when guards he knew took him back.

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