Lincoln Day dinner finally a success; Capt. Guy Gruters remembers horrors of POW captivity

Sep 9, 2020 | Featured | 0 comments

Headlining the Ottawa County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner recently were, left to right, State Rep. D.J. Swearingen, Ottawa County Commissioners Mark Coppeler, Don Douglas and Mark Stahl, State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, and candidates for 6th District Court of Appeals Charles Sulek, County Recorder Nate Daniels, Clerk of Courts John Klaehn, Treasurer Tony Hatmaker and 9th District Rep. Rob Weber. (Photo by John Schaffner)

BY JOHN SCHAFFNER, PUBLISHER

A crowd of about a hundred Ottawa County Republicans finally gathered for the twice-delayed Lincoln Day dinner at Catawba Island Club on Thursday evening. Just about all of them felt that they got their money’s worth following a powerful presentation from U.S. Air Force Captain (retired) Guy Gruters, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

Gruters spoke about the importance of the coming election as it relates to the suddenly concerning introduction of socialism in national politics.

“I know what socialism looks like. I saw it firsthand. The government becomes the “God” to the people, who virtually all but the political elite find themselves in complete poverty,” said Gruters. “When I was in captivity, we were given a little bit of bread and water to subsist on. Most of my fellow POWs lost 80 pounds of muscle mass during captivity.

“I wondered about that, but I found out that bread and water was what most of the populace of North Vietnam subsisted on themselves.”

Gruters was a highly decorated U.S. Air Force pilot with more than 400 combat missions in Vietnam. He was shot down twice. The first time he was rescued. The second time, he was captured on Dec. 20, 1967.

He had a visual presentation that highlighted the filthy conditions the POWs had to survive, along with a vivid presentation of the torture the POWs had to endure. It brought many of the attendees to tears.

On the positive side, the attendees got to hear from Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague and several other candidates. All three Ottawa County Commissioners — Mark Stahl, Mark Coppeler and Donald Douglas — were in attendance. There will be a significant number of county-wide races contested in November.

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