The story is told of his act of heroism in the obituary in the New York Times:
As Christmas 1970 approached, 43 American prisoners of war in a large holding cell at the North Vietnamese camp known as the Hanoi Hilton sought to hold a brief church service. Their guards stopped them, and so the seeds of rebellion were planted.
A few days later, Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. Shuman III, a downed Navy pilot, orchestrated the resistance, knowing he would be the first to face the consequences: a beating in a torture cell.
“Ned stepped forward and said, ‘Are we really committed to having church Sunday? I want to know person by person,’ ” a fellow prisoner, Leo K. Thorsness, recounted in a memoir. “He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually,” Mr. Thorsness continued. “When the 42nd man said yes, it was unanimous. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells.”
The following Sunday, Commander Shuman, who died on Dec. 3 at 82, stepped forward to lead a prayer session and was quickly hustled away by guards. The next four ranking officers did the same, and they, too, were taken away to be beaten. Meanwhile, as Mr. Thorsness told it, “the guards were now hitting P.O.W.s with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.”
And then, he remembered, the sixth-ranking senior officer began, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” “And this time,” he added, “we finished it.” The guards had yielded.
Lt. Cmdr. Shuman served his country, his family and his God well. This type of action is the epitome of courage and bravery. He knew it was his job to support the morale of the men. This simple act of defiance, in the face of known torture, was enough to keep others strong. May God give rest to his soul.
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