Book review: An American, Mormon POW's story of survival in an German camp

By Adam Thomas

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 18 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"ONE-MISSION MAN: An Amercan POW's Struggle to Survive Hitler's Nazi Prison Camp," by David Ririe, Roger W. Nielson and Carolyn R. Nielsen, Teton Crest, $14.95, 240 pages (nf)

Growing up in a small Mormon farming community in Idaho, David Ririe lived a quiet and enjoyable life. He was in his second year at Ricks College when the attack on Pearl Harbor would change his life forever.

Knowing he couldn't serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ririe volunteered for the Army Air Corps. Assigned to Santa Ana, Calif., for pre-flight training, he eventually honed the skills of B-17 bombardier.

It was during this time during training that Ririe strove to find others who shared his LDS beliefs. As he went throughout his training, Ririe encountered numerous times when the values he grew up with were challenged. Ultimately, though, they saved his life.

Finally after months of training, he was given his orders: a bombing mission in Poland, a headquarters of a German army force. During the mission, his plane was shot down over Germany and he was taken as a prisoner of war.

Learning about his situation, Ririe's family tried to find hope and peace about his whereabouts.

Ririe was sent to an isolated POW camp called Stalag Luft 1. It was there for the next 13 months that Ririe's will was tested to the extreme. It is in this part of the book when the reader sees what life was like in a POW camp. Conditions consisted of little food, hard labor and Nazi brutality.

It was there that Ririe leaned on friends and his LDS faith to find ways to pass the time until an American victory.

This moving story will help you realize what prisoners of war really went through and how they were able to maintain some kind of morale. Ririe's story will leave you grateful to live in a free world.

Ririe currently lives in Salinas, Calif., with his wife Jody. He has five children and is serving as a patriarch in the Monterrey California Stake.

Adam Thomas lives in Draper with his wife Kimberly and daughter Olivia.

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