To Return With Honor
James Warner (US Marine F-4 pilot, POW)
". . . On June 1 he put me in a small concrete box. The box stood in the sun, although there was a tree beside it which provided some shade. There was a steel door on the north side of the box. Since Vietnam is in the tropics, during the summer the sun is north of Son Tay. Therefore, the door was in the sun and it would get so hot that I could not touch it without burning my fingers.In July, after two months of interrogation during which I had not given him what he was after, he put me in leg irons and wired the leg irons to a small stool. Leg irons consisted of two horse shoe shaped devices which fitted around each ankle. Each device has two loops in the back through which an iron bar can be passed. The iron bar has a small loop at the end that passes through the horse shoes, and which allows a padlock to be attached to assure that the leg irons remain fastened.I could not sit squarely on the stool, since this would require bending my legs so much that the leg irons would dig into my ankles. On the other hand, I could not stand fully erect, for the same reason, and could not otherwise sit on the stool because I would hang over the back so far that I would fall over backwards. All I could do was crouch and balance on the balls of my feet. I was not allowed to sleep. After one day my feet began to swell, since the circulation was restricted. Then I got dysentery.Every morning Rat would come to see if I was ready to tell him how I communicated with Americans in other camps. Since I had not washed in two months, and had dysentery, and was confined in a small, hot, space, I found a way to make his morning visits unpleasant for him. About three in the morning, every night, I would take the lid off of the honey bucket. When he came to see me, usually at seven in the morning, he would stand as far away as possible and ask me if I was ready to answer his questions. I would smile and say that I could not hear him.From time to time I would provoke him, on the theory that he was already torturing me and there was nothing more that he could do. On one such occasion Rat got angry and gave me an uppercut to the chin. Given the weight distribution with the leg irons and stool, his blow lifted me from the floor and flipped me over, so I came down on the top of my head. This broke some back teeth.Finally, with my feet swollen now to the size of footballs, Rat released me from the irons. They had to pry the leg irons out of my swollen flesh to get them off."
Photo courtesy of James WarnerAll rights reserved