Out of the extreme struggles of the POW experience at the Hanoi Hilton emerged powerful lessons in leadership, with the central tenet being to always put the mission first.
Dr. William Sledge would walk outside his office just before his next appointment to watch his patients come down the hall. He wanted to size them up from afar before he interviewed them. He could always pick out the fighter jocks. They had a certain bearing—a swagger, really—that was distinctive. Their uniforms were never exactly perfect—almost intentionally so. They often arrived late for their appointments with him. The bomber pilots, in contrast, were always precisely on time, and their uniforms were perfectly regulation. An Air Force psychiatrist, Sledge was tasked with evaluating the pilots’ mental health.