Ex-POW to speak at St. Maurice Parish

Thursday, July 26, 2018 - Updated: 1:34 pm

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

For five years, Air Force Capt. Guy Gruters endured unspeakable horrors in a North Vietnamese prison camp. But instead of letting the ordeal break him, he turned to prayer, and the forgiveness he experienced led to a conversion in his life.

Gruters will speak on forgiveness during a presentation July 25 at St. Maurice Parish in Forest Hills. The 7 p.m. program will be held in the church.

“It will truly be a memorable evening,” said parishioner Jeff Ladik, who has coordinated the event.

Gruters completed more than 400 combat missions and was awarded more than 30 combat awards, including two Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for valor.

He was shot down twice and was captured the second time, on Dec. 20, 1967. He spent time at six POW camps, including two stints in the famous Hanoi Hilton, before he was released in March 1973.

Gruters went on to become a captain for Eastern Airlines before he retired in 1991. He then had a very successful career in the corporate/business world before beginning his work as a motivational speaker/author. His book, “Locked Up With God: My Best Thirteen Speeches,” is available on Amazon.com.

Ladik first heard him speak at a Theology on Tap gathering in the Washington, D.C., area in 2008. He had been invited to the event by Gruters’ daughter, whom he had met at another gathering.

“His talk just left such an enduring mark on my soul and in my mind,” he said. “It was such a humbling experience to listen to his story.”

Ladik spoke of how Gruters describes in detail the conditions he faced — rat droppings and maggots in bread, the beatings and other hardships. But he’s also very candid, Ladik noted, in talking about the peace that came to him when he prayed for his captors. The forgiveness, Gruters said, helped him not just to survive the ordeal, but to go on and live a meaningful life.

Gruters also relates to the audience, Ladik said, that while he was in a literal prison, others are trapped in figurative ones. They face addictions or other self-destructive behavior. Ladik noted that Gruters credits the intercession of the Blessed Mother for helping him find forgiveness.

“They can expect to hear a story that they will not soon forget,” he said. “It will have a lasting impression on their memory.”

Ladik pointed out that it has long been a goal of his to bring Gruters’ story to Pittsburgh.

There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $3 for children. More information is available by calling 412-271-0809. More information on Gruters can be found at www.guygruters.net.

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