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Hanoi Commitment by James A. Mulligan
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Hanoi Commitment

by James A. Mulligan

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The memoir of a Naval aviator shot down in Vietnam in 1966. He ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He suffered bruised/broken ribs and a shattered shoulder in the ejection and landing making his left arm useless. His wrists were tightly tied together with rope. He was taken to an arena in a nearby village and paraded back and forth while the people jeers and threw things at him. They told him to bow to the people and he refused so they grabbed his left arm and yanked it down. The pain from his shattered shoulder was intense and he eventually bowed as requested. He was thrown in the back of a truck and spent several days being transported while blindfolded in intense discomfort to prison. One of his captors poured gasoline over the ropes tying his wrists together so the ropes shrank down and bit deeply into his wrists. He couldn't feel his hands at all for a couple days and when he arrived at the prison they had to cut the ropes off they were so tight. This was just the beginning of his confinement and torture that he endured for 2,522 days. 31 months of that was in solitary confinement for being uncooperative with his captors efforts to get him to make statements for propaganda purposes. He given a lot of credit for his ability to endure to his faith and to the support of fellow faithful POWs.

I teared up a little towards the end of the book. How to do you say hello to your wife and 6 sons after being gone for that many years without being allowed to communicate?

The reason we ought to honor the uniform in the military isn't just because it's a rule but because of people like Naval Captain Jim Mulligan whose sacrifice makes it honorable.

I found his insight into what changed the attitude in Hanoi to being willing to accept a peace interesting (The B-52 raids he witnessed were pretty amazing) and noted that he is one more military man frustrated by the half-hearted way the politicians guided the war effort from afar rather than by people on the ground dedicated to winning. He had some criticism about the Naval re-direction in promoting people to leadership based more on education rather than combat leadership aptitude. We've been going in that direction so long now it's hard to measure the impact vs what things could be like. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
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