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Vietnam POW Interviews - Volume I

Catalog Title: 
POW Interviews, Volume I

 

Fellowes, John H. (1932-2010)
Commander, U.S. Navy

Based on two interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in August 1975. Fellowes's portion of the volume contains 278 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1976 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.

Commander John<br />
H. Fellows

Fellowes, pilot in squadron VA-65, was shot down in August 1966 while flying an A-6A Intruder on a bombing mission from the aircraft carrier Constellation (CVA-64). His target was Vinh in the panhandle area of North Vietnam. Fellowes's back was broken by the time he was captured on the ground by militiamen. His bombardier-navigator, George Coker, was also captured. The oral history describes Fellowes's six-and-one-half-year ordeal in North Vietnamese hands, recounting incidents concerning many of his fellow prisoners. He particularly cited the leadership qualities of POWs James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, and Robinson Risner. Included is discussion of such issues as the quality of military survival training and the importance of moral development; interrogation and torture; minimum medical treatment; meager food rations; usefulness of cigarettes; physical fitness exercise; camp policies; deaths of other prisoners; communication procedures; entertainment the POWs devised for each other;

visits to North Vietnam by war protesters such as Jane Fonda; being paraded in public in Hanoi; the futile Son Tay raid of 1970; B-52 raids on Hanoi; concerns about his family members back home and limited correspondence with them. Fellowes was released from captivity in early 1973. The oral history tells of his return, a description supplemented by his article "Operation Homecoming," which appeared in the December 1976 issue of Proceedings.

 

Stratton, Richard A. (1931- )
Commander, U.S. Navy

Based on one interview conducted by Paul B. Ryan in September 1975. Stratton's portion of the volume contains 144 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1976 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee's permission is required to cite or quote the material in a published work.

Commander<br />
Richard A. Stratton

Stratton, a member of squadron VA-192, flew off the carrier Ticonderoga (CVA-14) in an A-4E Skyhawk on 5 January 1967. He was on a combination reconnaissance and weather hop when he was shot down that day near Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam. He spent the next six years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese. From his experiences, he discussed the leadership structure among the prisoners and the North Vietnamese fear of that leadership; the role of officers such as James Stockdale and William Lawrence as leaders; communications methods; interrogation and torture; attempts to get him to defect; the value of religion; descriptions of the guards; the famous incident in which Stratton bowed stiffly to imply he had been drugged before being put on display for the media; his forced confession; the importance of returning with honor; escape attempts; Stratton's assessment of President Lyndon Johnson's handling of the war; the role of neutral countries; U.S. media coverage of POWs; comparison of the POW

experience to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book On Death and Dying; no early releases were sanctioned except that of Seaman Apprentice Douglas Hegdahl in 1969 to carry prisoners' names back to the United States; and some of the common traits of the American prisoners. Stratton's wife Alice told the story from the family point of view in a July 1978 Proceedings article titled "The Stress of Separation."

Vietnam POW Interviews - Volume II

Denton, Jeremiah A., Jr. (1924-2014)
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Based on two interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in October and November 1976. Denton's portion of the volume contains 147 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1977 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee's permission is required to cite or quote the material in a published work.

Rear Admiral<br />
Jeremiah A. Denton

Denton was shot down on 18 July 1965 near Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam, while flying an A-6A Intruder from squadron VA-75, based on the carrier Independence (CVA-62). In addition to covering his personal ordeal of torture, he assessed the rationale for the U.S. intervention in Vietnam and the methods employed there; positions of President Richard Nixon and advisor Henry Kissinger on conduct of the war; Communist versus democratic value systems; the Code of Conduct; views on marriage and the family; Communist propaganda; the importance of the command structure among prisoners, led by individuals such

as James Stockdale and Robinson Risner; forced confessions; the difficulties of solitary confinement; religious activities in captivity, national security; and speeches to the public following his release. Denton was the first American prisoner freed in the normal release procedure and thus was called upon to speak to the media when he reached the Philippines in early 1973. The oral history interviews are intended to supplement Denton's book When Hell was in Session.

Alvarez, Everett, Jr. (1937- )
Commander, U.S. Navy

Based on two interviews conducted by Etta-Belle Kitchen in March 1976. Alvarez's portion of the volume contains 134 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendix. The transcript is copyright 1977 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has removed previous limitations on the use of the material.

Commander Everett<br />
 Alvarez, Jr.

Alvarez was the first U.S. pilot shot down in the Vietnam War. On 5 August 1964 he was lost while flying an A-4C Skyhawk of squadron VA-144 from the carrier Constellation (CVA-64). The mission was a retaliation strike on Hon Gay, North Vietnam, for the Gulf of Tonkin incident a few days earlier. In the oral history he discussed the lack of preparation at that time for rescuing shot-down airmen; injuries sustained in ejection; makeshift nature of the early captivity; varying attitudes of different guards; initial period of solitary confinement; the Code of Conduct; his belief that visits by American protesters such as Ramsay Clark and Jane Fonda kept the war going; the value of prayer; propaganda and punishment meted out by the enemy; interrogation details; communication with his

wife until he learned that she had divorced him; the limited food and medical treatment available; ways in which political events affected the treatment of the prisoners; gradual improvement of conditions in the early 1970s; opportunities for sports and exercise; interaction among prisoners; the effect of U.S. B-52 raids on North Vietnam; and eventual release and delivery to the Philippines in early 1973. The interviews are a supplement to Alvarez's book Chained Eagle.

(Ranks of the officers listed above are as of the time of the interviews.)

 


 
 

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