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tv   Book Discussion on Defiant  CSPAN  June 5, 2016 8:00am-8:51am EDT

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if it was the first, but the idea it would not be the party bosses that made the decision of who the nominees were in back rims, rooms, but-- back rather the people that would have a chance to vote in free and fair elections. >> tonight at 8:00 p.m. on c-span. talkst, alvin townley -- theis book, "defiant" pows who endured vietnam's most infamous prison, the women who fought for them and the one who never returned. he will talk about the vietnam war in how they were held in solitary confinement, suffering mental torture by the north the vietnamese. 10 of the soldiers returned
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home. this was recorded in pensacola, florida in 2014. it is about 45 minutes. >> good morning and welcome to all of you. today for our discovery saturday series we have a special guest, an author who has written four books and he is going to discuss the latest of those four books. i have it here in my hand. it's entitled "defiant" -- the pows who endured vietnam's most infamous prison, the women who fought for them and the one who never returned. he's going to tell us about his book and then he is going to answer some questions and then he will be available to autograph copies of that book if you would like to see them.
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now we are privileged in the course of his presentation to also have some of the pows that are mentioned in the book with us here today. we have ross. who is sitting right over here, sir. we have ralph gaither who is sitting over here and scotty morgan. where is scotty morgan? scotty morgan right over here. are there any others? yes, sir. bob flynn. any others? [applause] listen, gentlemen. let me tell you two things by way of introduction of our author.
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his name is alvin townley, but i was given a copy of this book about a week ago. i thought, well ok, if i'm going to introduce alvin i probably ought to see with this book is all about. i have read several other accounts by stockdale and others relative to the p.o.w. experience in vietnam and i have had extensive conversations with admiral stockdale over the course of time both as a mentor and as an advisor at the navy war college and i had the privilege of going through the hanoi hilton while it was still on active duty and seeing it as it is today, which is basically a tourist attraction. i thought, i probably ought to read it and the way i'm going to do this is i'm going to read an early chapter, going to read a middle chapter and then read the last chapter. it doesn't work. [laughter] it doesn't work. it is a great book.
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it is written in a very captive, capturing, narrative style. it's the kind of book that picks you up and absolutely embraces you with the human spirit and our ability to adapt and the heroic measures that were taken by those that were captured and held for extended periods of time. but i'm not going to tell you about it and i'm not going to read the book. i'm going to let the author do that for you and without further ado folks, alvin townley. it's an honor to have him here with us. [applause] alvin: thanks general. what the general didn't tell you is he's a marine corps general and he didn't tell you was the reason he was only going to read three chapters is because that's about all a marine can do. [laughter] any marines in the audience by the way? we have one, two, three. there you go.
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first i want to say what an honor just to be here speaking for the skyhawks, which is a unique experience and i'm thrilled to have for former pows former convicts in the audience , with us. everywhere i go i think the pows like to make sure one or two folks in the audience keep me honest. so if i mess up you guys let me know. i want everybody to imagine for one second that you are a lieutenant commander bob shoemaker, 30 years old, you have a wife and a newborn son at home. you are at the top of your class at the u.s. naval academy. you're a finalist in the apollo astronaut program. you are a navy fighter pilot and for those of you who know navy fighter pilots that means you think you're the finest fighter pilot in the world. you fly. applause, there you go, maybe. anybody from the air force here?
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ok. sorry gentlemen. it might be a rough morning for you. you are 30 years old and you are flying these machines, all of these jet machines around you. you think that you can control the uncontrollable because into an a4trapping because basically stressing in , f4. nobody can control that. but you have the confidence to think that you can. you are in complete control of your world. it's february 9, 1965 the first day of the air war against north vietnam. you are 100 miles off the coast. it is february 9. all of those character traits and all that confidence, that is who you are. this is bob shoemaker on february 11, two days later. being captured by the north vietnamese in a flooded field somewhere in north vietnam.
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in 15 seconds, bob shoemaker went from being in complete control of his world and completely sure that nobody in the entire country of north vietnam could shoot him down. there was no way. that is what happened. he gets hit. he was going to try to say mayday and he basically got out the syllable may and realized if he didn't punch out he never would have finished the medication. he ejected under 1000 feet and his shoot opened at 35 feet , maybe 50 feet. and in training he learned to do multipoint landing so you disburse the impact of the landing, several different body parts and you roll. he said he basically did a point landing right on his
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rear end and he fractured his back and there he was in north vietnam without his aircraft, without his weapons, without his squadron, without his aircraft carrier without all those things , that made him the world's best fighter pilot. so he is sitting there thinking about his situation and the first thought that came to his head was not, what should i do next or how am i going to get out of this? he actually went back to a couple of weeks before he deployed and a life insurance salesman had come by his house offering to sell life insurance. and he declined and there on the ground in north vietnam he wished he had bought more. so that began his stent in -- stint in captivity. he was taken captive february 11, 1965 and this really wasn't that big of a problem because the war was just beginning and we were the united states of america. there is no way the united states is going to leave one of their best fighter pilots in
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north vietnam as a p.o.w. so bob figured he would be home by christmas. that was 1965. he was there all of 1965 and he was there all of 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969. we have a new president. 1970. the united states begins withdrawing troops from north vietnam, or south vietnam rather, and they began wondering is america going to leave us? the war is not over. what's going to happen to us? 1971, 1972, the pows did not come home until 1973. bob schumacher, if you are still
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imagining you are bob schumacher, that meant that you were in prison for eight years. eight years you didn't know if you are going to get home ever , but you made it through that and you were there with a bunch of other guys in 1965. these guys who you are with were state wrestling champions. the air force guys will appreciate one of the guys was a former air force thunderbird pilot. they were fathers, they were husbands, they were sons and they all ended up in the prison. wherever anyone was shot down, they would take him to hanoi and some of the pows here can tell you it wasn't a very pleasant journey. they all came together in a prison that was built in 1800's by the french. the french have been in north vietnam for decades and the country was basically a colony. so for decades this prison held
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vietnamese captives, and the p.o.w.s said when he came in to that prison you could almost hear the screams and the agony of 70 years of prisoners. so very quickly these guys realized the north vietnamese were trying to isolate them because from their own , experience in this prison that prisoners could communicate with prisoners that were hard to deal with so they tried to separate , the prisoners and keep them in separate cells when they could. the pows realize this and they knew they needed a way to communicate where they wouldn't be able to talk with one another. they came up with what was known as the tap code. this was the life blood of the pows in vietnam. very fortunately, a couple of pows remember this code from a coffee break conversation in air force school.
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bob schumacher and a couple of other guys were together in the spring of 1965 for just a couple of weeks and they realized they needed some kind of communication. they came up with the code called the schmitt e. harris tap code after schmitt e. harris. he noticed there were 25 letters of the alphabet so was taking out k and use c for k so now we have 25 letters. , when he wanted to send a message. let's say i'm going to send the letter b to ross. i'm going to tap once because "b" is in the first row and i will tap twice because it's in the second column. my generation sometimes thinks we are the ones that embedded abbreviated text messaging. these pows were saying g for goodnight and tm for tomorrow
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, long before my generation was. great, so they would sit there all day sometimes and tap through the wall and they might get five or six words a minute. but once they got efficient and if they guess the word coming through they would give a quick , double wrap to the person sending the message and move onto the next word. that was the first challenge . and they had to overcome how to communicate. the next challenge abided by the code of conducts every military pilot shot down in vietnam had learned the code of conduct and basically this correlated with the geneva convention for treatment of prisoners of war. the code of conduct basically said you were going to tell your enemy anything other than your name, your rank your service number, and your date of birth. you certainly weren't going to make any statements against the united states. you weren't going to sell out
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your fellow servicemen. tanner, it was one of his early interrogations. when the interrogator came in and started asking other questions about america nell said, wait a i'm protected by second. the geneva convention. the interrogator said, yes, we know all about the geneva convention. we are just not going to abide by it. this is the situation these pows faced. they expected to be in a situation where the enemy would honor these international agreements. where the enemy would tell their families that they have survived, in a situation where they wouldn't be put under duress to give statements. that is not what they found. in late 1965, we don't know exactly why but north vietnam , decided they weren't getting enough good military intelligence or good propaganda out of the p.o.w. so someone in hanoi decided they needed to go ahead and get some information. so a gentleman showed up.
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the pows never knew any of the names of their captors or their interrogators. they nicknamed them. so there was pig eye, there was rabbit, there was cat and big ug. there was drut. they can tell you what that means. pig eye one of the most famous because he was the one that administered a lot of the torture. i want everybody to sit forward in your seats a little bit except for the former pows. you have done it enough. i want you to put your arms behind your back and clasp your hands together. that was the first thing they did. and they would ask you, before this gets bad don't you want to , sign this statement? don't you want to say that america is an imperialist power? do you want to say that this is
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immoral war? that you want to say you were denounced by what america is doing? if you do we will give you some , good food. we will let you play volleyball. we may let you go home early. you are an american fighter pilot so you are competitive and , there is no way that you are going do these things. you are going to beat these guys , so they say all right. now pretend somebody has ropes around your elbows and they're pulling your elbows together. can anybody touch their elbows? it's pretty hard, isn't it? your shoulders feel like they are going to pop out of your sockets. and your sternum is going to pop open. they still won't tell them. come on just signed his , confession. we won't even tell anybody. trust us we won't tell anybody. , no one will ever know. but you are an american fighter pilot. and you are not going to do
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that. and the air force guy too. , they are not going to do it either. ,so now that your legs out street in front of you. imagine a pair of leg irons on your ankles. knees are flat against the floor, the concrete floor. it's a small room and they take those arms and they are ropes d together and they pulled them over your head and they drive your face and head down to your needs. check,lled it the road and at some point there is no way that your body can take that. you guys can come out of the stress position now. imagine being in those positions for hours sometimes. sometimes they would make it so bad you would break quickly. every american aviator that did this was by himself so the first time he signed a confession and
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gave more than his name service andame, service number, date of birth he thought he was the only guy that couldn't hold the line. these guys were just crushed. they would come back to their cells and through the tap code they learned that they weren't the only guys, that nobody could hold out so the pows came up with their own system. they had to figure out a way for them to return home with honor. they have to come up with a system that would allow them to deal with this new reality this -- new reality, this terrible, brutal reality in a way that let them feel good about themselves and let them know they had done their best and they had done their best for their buddies. so they came up with a code, their own code. they called it back us. , commander jim stockdale was one of the folks that helped come up with this. he was one of the leaders of the pows. and so "back us" and of course
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you know tap code now so you know that there is no letter k. so baccus. b stood for don't bow them public. never let the world's cameras see an american fighter pilot bow in front of a captor. a stood for say off the air. unless they really work you over your not supposed to make any broadcast of any propaganda on the air. c was confess no crimes. the north vietnamese never called the american aviators anything other than a war criminal. from the second they landed they were a war criminal, war criminal, war criminal. commander stockdale wanted to make darn sure that our pows knew that they were not criminals, they were soldiers. they were never to confess to any crimes. , then c, is for
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don't kiss up and don't kiss them goodbye. so do not do any special favors. don't try to kiss up to these guys and whenever that was going -- and whenever you are going to go home and they didn't know what is was going to be. whenever that was every american , should remember how terribly they were treated and never forget that. back us. the u.s. was the most important tenet of this code. the u.s. stood for unity over self. the pows knew to survive this and maintain a common battle line against their interrogators they have to be unified. , they had to remember that their unity was the most and that theyg should always have their brother pows in mind whenever they were being tortured, whenever they were writing anything. how could they support their brother pows and that is the way these men got to the situation -- through the situation, by supporting each other.
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or 500 powsbout 400 in north vietnam and maybe more times, so there was a real organized resistance. jim was one of the key leaders in that resistance. but it didn't matter what type of prison he was in. there were several prisons around hanoi. his orders made it to all the pow camps and at the vietnamese one point, brought him in front cap, -- catl and who was the commander of the , prison camps came up to him , and said you have caused us a lot of trouble. criminals and camps miles away. know your orders. you have set us back two years. he said that he never received a finer compliment than that. jim stockdale and his leadership team there were a lot of senior
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officers there the north , vietnamese realized that these guys were causing trouble and they had to get rid of them. so they identified 11 pows most of whom are senior ranking navy commanders, and they needed to kick them out of the hanoi hilton. the other thing the book tells you is how to get kicked out of the p.o.w. camp. jim stockdale and jeremiah denton received the medal of honor which he accepted on , behalf of all the pows when he came home. jeremiah denton became a u.s. senator for the state of alabama and painlessly -- and quite famously, some of you might remember they put jerry denton , on tv for a live interview and he did two things. one, he didn't say what he was supposed to say. he said what he wanted to say so you knew that he was getting in trouble for that. and he did get in trouble for that. but he also sat there and he blinked a lot. i think everybody thought he was just blinking because the studio
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lights were bright. but jerry denton was a lot smarter than i am because i can barely talk and read the same time, but jerry denton could at thed blank -- blink same time. and he blinked torture in morse code, again and again with his eyes, torture, torture, torture. george mcknight, george coker. george mcknight was a boxer from oregon. george coker was a wrestling champion from new jersey. these guys were like a molotov cocktail. these guys were probably two of the most incendiary prisoners . because the second they landed in north vietnam, they hated their captors and they let them know it and they never let them forget it. in fact these two escaped. i am not going to tell you exactly what happened because i , want you to read the book and find out that one of the best side stories of the entire
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p.o.w. era. these two characters did and how they got out of their cells and how far they got. it's an amazing story. these two men were both commanders, squadron commanders, ended up being kind of the laurel and hardy, the and frack of the pows. they were never more than 30 feet apart for almost eight years and for the first two years they never even saw each other. they were just taps through the walls. jim mulligan and sam wallace and both of them made it out. and today, they share grandchildren. so jim's son married sam johnson's daughter. and they now have what they collectively called the p.o.w. grandchildren. sam is now a congressman from the state of texas and was the elite solo pilot for the thunderbirds.
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ron stores is one p.o.w. from this group of 11 that didn't make it home. it is wrong -- ron. book notu to read the because i wrote it but because it's the most incredible story you will ever hear. when you read the story and you you read about ron, you kind of understand how terrible mentally , terrible that whole situation was. nell tanner. nelson ross. they flew together. they got shot down. nels was not a senior officer but he ended up in this group of , 11 and i will tell you why. and i love this story. he and ross were worked over for a long time. they were at the end of the realizedropes and they
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that they were going to have to write this confession. they decided they weren't going to write a nice confession. they were going to write a subversive confession. at this point, nells could barely use his hands. so ross wrote most of it. but he was not in good shape either. they talked about their officers who had protested the war and they mentioned one of those officers was clark kent. for those of you who remember superman. the vietnamese didn't notice this. they thought that was just fine. a couple of months later, they just use nells' name on the press release. they had a great confession. well, they got a phone call from states a couple of weeks later, and one friend told
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them that clark kent was superman. they came, they took nells along with these other folks to alcatraz. a little prison a mile north of the hanoi hilton, 13 cells, and i'm not sure why they left two empty. they probably forgot to include a couple of these guys in there. and they lived -- these 11 guys lived for two years in nine-by-four foot cells. so think about this. this is your world for 23 hours and 15 minutes a day. so nine feet is about that. this is about four feet. this is where those guys lived for two years. there were no windows. they would walk in this space. if they had enough energy -- they didn't get much food so often they couldn't do pushups. or they were so injured they
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couldn't do that. this was their world. all they had. they couldn't see out of it. it was cold in the winter. and it was like a furnace in the summertime. and they had nothing to do. so when i was writing the book, i thought the worst part about being a p.o.w. might be the torture. when i told him i was writing the book, commander george coker said, why? it was boring? . i thought he didn't know what he was talking about. i got a friend who built me a replica alcatraz p.o.w. cell in my garage in my backyard. one night he came and kidnapped me. i had a bucket, you can figure out what that was for, and i had a blanket, a pair of pants and a t-shirt. and a little bottle of water, and josh locked me in the cell. i didn't think this was a problem, because i knew he was
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going to kidnap me at some point. so there was a key padlock, and i stashed a key inside the cell. so if it got kind of rough i could get out. and so that first night i probably had been in there for eight hours and i was bored, and it was cold. and it wasn't comfortable. i thought, i'm going to get a blanket and no one is going to know. i'm just going to take my key and open the little fielding -- feeding hole and unlock the padlock. i do not know what this says about me, but josh anticipated i might do this and changed the padlock. in a tiny way, a tiny way, i got a small taste what it get like agehat it was like to be my
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, taken as a p.o.w., and really lose control. you cannot get out of the box you're in. the next couple of days went by and i was in the box. i learned what george coker meant when he said it was boring. it drives you crazy. you're trying to find a crack to see outside and hope the shadows move so you can have something that changes. when these guys got to alcatraz, they left them there. they made them just sit there. forgotten. they were rotting away. so these guys had to come up with ways to keep themselves occupied, and other p.o.w.'s did this in other cells. they had to come up with ways to keep occupied. so they would tap poems to each other. they would build houses. sit there for days and tap each other find out, sam johnson, was a building contractor before he joined the air force, so they found out how much lumber cost and brick cost and would build
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elaborate homes in their minds. bob said his took a particularly long time to build because his chimney kept collapsing. they came up with ways to keep their mind occupied. and you know, again, remember, they didn't know when they were going to get out. they might not have gotten out had it not been for their wives. has anybody seen this flag, this emblem? this is one of the most extraordinary women's movements in history, and almost nobody knows it. the wives of these guys realize they had to take action to get their husbands home. so earlier i asked you to pretend that you are bob shoemaker -- and then imagine cybil stockdale. navy wife, four kids, your husband flying over north vietnam. a sedan pulls up at your house. a senior officer, his wife, and a chaplain, get out. they walk to your door. you know your husband has been shot down or killed. they come in and say, ma'am, your husband has been shot down.
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we think he is alive. we're not really sure. north vietnam won't tell us one way or the other. we'll try to find out. we ask you be quiet. don't talk to anybody about this. just keep quiet. don't talk to the press. don't tell anybody you don't have to, and we'll take care of it. so in 1965, you're sybil stockdale, you are a military wife and you do what you are told to do. you accept this, you trust the government. ingeniousugh this communication, you learn that a treatment for the pows is not good. through a secret communique, you learn your husband is at the hands of people that are expert s in torture and he is in leg irons for 16 hours a day. and your government is still not doing anything about it. so these wives started organizing across the country
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before they had e-mail. , before they had cell phones. they would spend hours and days on the telephone, talking with one another, and virginia beach, san diego, jacksonville, and organizing, and starting to put pressure on our politicians and our government, on the press, to talk about this issue and to bring their husbands home. they created an absolutely extraordinary movement that we still recognize today, and i expect a bunch of you all wore p.o.w./m.i.a. . bracelets at one point. there will over five million minted and people from all sides of the political spectrum wore them. vietnam was a tremendously divisive war. but because of these women, and this pow/mia movement, the country came together around the pows and around the men fighting, so for the first time our nation was in a position where we had to differentiate between the political goals of the war and the men who were
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fighting it. and these brave women helped our country do that. three of the founders of this national league of pow-mia families, were the wives of this group of pows known as the alcatraz 11. because of their work, all they , in 1973 the pows finally were able to come home. after eight years, bob shewmaker was reunited with his family. last time he saw his son, grant, in this eight years old picture. last time he saw grant, grant was two months old. can you imagine that? but there has never been a situation like this before, and
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i hope that there will never be one again. but their shared experience, there in the alcatraz prison, brought this group together. they stayed a cohesive group and to this day still keep up with one another, and one of the big selfishly, one of the biggest gifts this book has given me is getting to know these people. i never thought my good friends would be 80-year-old pows but that is what happened throughout this journey for me, and that has been so special. when we look at this, it's important to remember that this story is not just about the alcatraz 11, and it's not just about all the pows. it's about the values and the virtues of the american military , and about the values and virtues that make america what it is. when you think about this group of service men and women, prisoners of war in vietnam, you
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have to realize there has never been another group of american military service men and families that has endured more for longer, ever, in american history. and we should never forget that. the other thing to take away from this, is that any day, that you can open your door and walk outside, not a bad day. so, everyone, thank you for coming and once again, pows, thank you so much for being here, for your service. [applause] >> alvin, thank you so very much. he has graciously accepted some time to answer your questions. if you have any. spend a few minutes with q & a. if you have a question, please stand up. because this is being recorded i
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will repeat the question so that it's in the recording. do you have any questions in the audience? alvin: that's right. this is being taped on c-span. so, check back with the museum to let you know when it's going to air. >> yes, sir. >> i have a question. [inaudible question] alvin: i do. >> excuse me, excuse me. the question was, what happened to harry jenkins? [inaudible question] alvin: i did. the gentleman flew long easy, which are experimental homemade aircraft with harry jenkins. remember, harry jenkins was 6'5", they call him the ichabod crane of the pows, and somehow
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harry, this 6'5" of human, into an a-4 skyhawk. we're not sure how he did that. but he did. he always loved flying and came home and built his own airplane, in a garage, in a house i've been in, in coronado, and sadly he was killed in 1999 in a small plane accident. and his family has been wonderfully supportive of this, and i just -- it kills me i didn't get to meet him. because everyone says he always had a laugh and just very extraordinary. [inaudible question] -- every other year to oshkosh in the long easy, and he told me about this. he never told me about this pow experience, but he told me every year in order to connect with
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his sons he would fly one in the , front, fly from the back seat, and went up to oshkosh there in 1999. and i flew in a couple months earlier, and on his way back, he landed at the high desert in arizona, i think around phoenix somewhere, and it was a hot day, very hot day in phoenix, and oshkosh occurs in late july, april. and he was overloaded in his long easy and was taking off early evening, and he was going down the runway and couldn't get airborne. kept going and couldn't stop the airplane and went through a chain-link fence, and the crossbar of the fence hit him in the head and what's what met his demise. alvin: the great thing about these guys is they were all fighter pilots and stayed that way throughout their lives. >> absolutely. alvin: thank you for sharing that. >> thank you. another question. yes, sir. >> can you speak about doug hadnal at all?
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alvin: george coker thought he would be the youngest pow. he was just turning 23 when he got shot down. this is a former wrestler that escaped. but he wasn't the youngest pow because there was an 18-year-old seaman that got washed overboard. oops. and actually when he showed up in hanoi, everyone thought he was a plant because they thought, surely, there's no way somebody is going to get washed overboard and end up in the hanoi hilton. well, that's what happened. so, doug henningle was there, and for a couple reasons they thought he might get to go home early. so dick stratton and a couple other commanders had him memorize the names of all the pows. and so he did. over 200 names. in his mind, but he couldn't say them slowly. he had them to tune of "old mcdonald had a farm" and would
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say them so fast they had to debrief him over several days so they could figure out who he was saying in his presentation. it's an amazing story. he was one -- for some families like the johnson family, the jacobs family and rutledge family, who still didn't know if sam or howie or harry were home hehen doug got brought the first word to those families their husbands and fathers were still alive good -- still alive. good question. >> a question right behind you. >> me. you talked about survival and how they survived in isolation. i am sure you have heard about fred purrington and his way of survival was playing music in his mind. alvin: a great story. addition to being a phd
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in aeronautics and a brilliant man, he was a musician. so he got toilet paper and matches and laid out a piano keyboard. they'd roll it out during the day. and bob would also write music using burnt matches and toilet paper. >> yes, sir. in: a little more. hold on. so between him and his cell mates they would play music all day long, and alvarez, the first pow, was in a neighboring cell. bob would say hey, listen up, , we're going play you a tune. and so they proceeded to play on their piano, and after a couple of minutes he taps back and says, not bag for ragtime. they had to be tremendously creative. >> the picture you showed of bob being captured. was that a true picture or is
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that the one they tortured him 1967 picture, and they made him remake it as a propaganda picture of his capture. alvin: good question. that one ran in 1965 in the paper after they were released. they still had his flight suit. i think that's it. with the torture -- i think he played a different part in the torture scene. there was an east german film crew trying to find some folks to play the part of american pows and tried to convince bob to do this, and bob didn't want to do this so they worked him over and they beat him up pretty badly. so he ended up not having to play the american aviator. but they did need the par of the aviator,f the american injured. so with his face black and blue
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you fit the part, so he had to play the wounded aviator. and the vietnamese did the makeup for him. [inaudible] that is very interesting. alvin: i'm going to double-check that. and before we get dismissed here i want to make sure all the pows -- if you come up here afterwards, please. >> yes, sir. >> how was the story being received in the america today and where can i get a copy of the book? alvin: i get e-mails from people. i got an e-mail from new zealand this morning. honest to god. a pilot in new zealand who had read this book, and had been moved by it. some people had wore pow bracelets. i have gotten e-mails from people who wore harry jenkins bracelets, and it's been more rewarding than i ever imagined. we're already in our second printing. it's been out for a month. it is with saint martin's press
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in new york. , i think,a is just enamored with the story. in some ways with the story, which is so important because so many of us have forgotten what that period meant, what these men service men and women service men, and my general situation was -- i was born after the war. so we don't know the story of the vietnam pows. my mission is to bring this story to a whole new generation so our country could never , forget what these men did. >> let me get you the mike. >> i know he doesn't want me to say anything, but i know this is about alcatraz. my husband was shot down and carried into china and held in iron basket prison for five and a half years in solitary confinement. i just want that to be known. [applause]
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alvin: there are so many stories about the vietnam war, the vietnam period, that we need to know, and sadly we don't know, and i hope that other people will come along and share their stories, and then america understands what so many people sacrificed in a very difficult war, for their country and ultimately for each other, and what the families went through. i think one of my big lessons has been learning how important the military families are. to the old enterprise of naval aviation or military aviation or armed service. i think it's something we always need to remember, what the family goes through and how to support them. so thank you for sharing that and thank you for doing that. that's incredible. >> any other questions. ladies and gentlemen, let me add one more endorsement to the book. i personally read arguably three
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different accounts, three different books, on the pow, the american pow experience in vietnam. this is by far the most readable, the most easily understood, and the best account that i have personally ever read, and i encourage you to pick up a copy. i encourage you to pick up a copy and read it. you also had the opportunity to have him autograph it today, and i encourage you to do that. i want us all to give alvin another round of applause for taking the time and writing such a wonderful book and such a wonderful account. [applause] alvin: thank you. >> the autographs will actually occur up by the bookstore over here. the flight deck shop. behind you. up against the wall. he'll be there to sign the autographs and you can pick up a book. ladies and gentlemen, thanks for
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coming today. >> thank you all. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend. to join the conversation, find us on facebook. weekend on the presidency, colonial williamsburg posts a lecture -- hosts a lecture on george washington's life after retirement from the presidency. >> remember, washington had five of over 8000otal acres with over nine miles of fence, to give you an idea. you can imagine how full the
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days would be. he is almost running a hotel, everyone can a friends, visitors, they want to stop. they want to see him. it is an interesting note that he wrote in his diary, he said nobody came for dinner, it would be the first time in 20 years that martha and i have dined alone. that gives you an idea of the schedule you might have as opposed to the rest of us. and remember, he owns over 50,000 acres out west. he is collecting rent. he is dealing with the atomic -- potamac canal company. connecting the east and the west. he has a lot of capital city that will be named after him and he is investing in the city.
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>> watch the entire program at 8:00 p.m. on sunday here on american history tv. only on c-span3. >> next on american history tv, former correspondent dan rather and peter arnett talk about their work on the front lines in vietnam. and how their experiences compared with the official government reports of the war. dan rather aired on cbs. and peter arnett work in vietnam for the associated press from 1962-19 five -- 1975. andrew sherry of the night foundation, a former foreign correspondent moderated the conversation. we begin with a two-minute video clip of dan rather reporting from vietnam. this conversation was part of a three-day conference at the lbj presidential library in austin, texas that organizers call the vietnam war summit. it's about one hour.


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