Richard Perricone 63, of Apopka, Fla., formerly of Uniondale, was an Army PFC

I was in a POW camp in Cambodia. There were seven of us. Five that were captured [when I was] and two other guys. They used to move us around the mountain every couple of months so we couldn't try to escape or do anything. I was captured July 12, 1967. I was released March 5, 1973. Five-and-a-half years, 2,064 days.

In the summer of 1969, I was doing the same thing we did every day during those years. We would sit inside a cage they had built, like a tiger cage. We used to sleep on a bamboo bed. The five of us were in one cell. We would stay in there 231/2 hours a day. The only time you came out was to go to the facilities, which was a hole in the ground about 40 to 50 meters down the trail.

Most of the time, we just sat there and talked among each other. We talked about families and mostly about food because all you ate was two cups of rice twice a day, maybe with a little greens or sweet potato tots. We talked about what we wanted to do when we got out of the service. Girls, cars, you name it, we talked about it. It helped the time go by. It was mental torture.

We weren't allowed to talk to the two guys in the other cell. So we would sing, that's how we would communicate.

They would interrogate you. They wanted to know how we got there, how many men are in the division. They wanted to know how many of their soldiers we killed in the time we were there. They wanted to know what life was like in the United States. You tried to explain to them, but they couldn't understand simple things. They didn't think there was enough eggs in the United States for everyone to have two every day. And try to explain to a person who doesn't know, what a waffle machine is or a popcorn machine. They asked me what my father did for a living. I told them he was a butcher. "What kind of car did he drive?" He drove a Cadillac. "Oh, he was an imperialist, he stole from the people so he could afford a car like that."

We did try to escape in November 1969. Me and two other guys got out of the camp. I jumped the guard, knocked him out, and we took off, but Dave and I were captured within an hour. They wouldn't feed us, wouldn't give us mosquito nets, no water for days. They beat the living crap out of us. A few days after that ... they came in with a gunny sack, and they kept saying, "DeLong, DeLong, DeLong, the guy who got away." They dumped it on the ground. It was his shirt, just riddled with bullets. Then, the camp coordinator came in and said, "Joe would not stop, so we shot him, and his body will lay out in the jungle and be eaten by the animals." Joe DeLong. He's the one who got away.

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