an Autobiographical Sketch
I was flying my Navy F-8 Crusader on a bright sunny day, September 5, 1966, when I was shot down over North Vietnam. In the ejection my right leg was broken.
After the leg was finally operated on, I was in a cast for about four months. It took about two years with my roommates' help to achieve full use of the leg. It was my constant desire not to be a cripple so as to fly again someday. Other than my leg, the treatment and daily routine as a prisoner of war was similar to that described by most of the men. The food was just enough to sustain life. A constant battle was to keep our minds active. In the early years communication was extremely limited, but in the last couple of years we were able to conduct our own educational programs--courses in everything from languages and mathematics to meat cutting, duplicate bridge and Toastmasters.
Confidence is perhaps the one word that best describes what sustained me through the years. Confidence in my God, my country, my fellow POWs, my family. At the same time what hurt most was the Americans who came to Hanoi in so-called "peace" delegations. They allowed themselves to be used as propaganda tools by the North Vietnamese against us (the POWs) and our forces in South Vietnam. By exploiting the treasured American right to dissent, as characterized by the anti-war movement, the North Vietnamese tried to undermine our loyalty to the American commitment in Vietnam. Our defense against this tactic was an awareness of the nature of the American free press. True brainwashing took place with the North Vietnamese people who were subjected to a totally controlled government press which distorted the true image of America.
As a native of California it was a special joy to reenter the US after six and a half years by circling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay. My homecoming has served to reenforce the beliefs in America which sustained me during my years as a prisoner. The warmth and sincerity of the welcome by all Americans has been overwhelming. I am eager to resume my Air Force career, while enjoying this great country with my family.