Local News

Fayetteville POW Feels Emotional Connection To Freed U.S. Aid Workers

Posted November 19, 2001

— A Fayetteville man has some sense of the ordeal experienced by two U.S. workers who were freed from their Taliban captors.

Paul Dallas said he felt an emotional connection to Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry in their capture and their release. The 77-year-old man was a prisoner of war in Germany for six months during World War II. By the time he was released, he had lost 72 pounds.

"You think you can forget it, but you don't really forget. I have dreams about it and still have nightmares," Dallas said.

Dallas watched other American POWs die of starvation and frostbite, yet he remained positive during his ordeal.

"I had real faith that I was going to make it," he said.

Just like the two aid workers held by the Taliban, Dallas said his religion sustained him.

"In my case, the days seemed like months and I'm sure it was the same for these two ladies. A day is a long time when you don't have communication with your family or country, anyone but your enemy," he said.

Today, Dallas is actively involved in the Fayetteville Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners Of War. He is one of the few who can understand what the freed relief workers are now experiencing.

"I know the thrill and excitement they were feeling, being released and being with Americans," he said.

If Dallas could offer the women one piece of advice, he suggested they talk about their experience. He said at first, he could not talk about the ordeal, but he said he found therapy in it once he could open up.

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