Mac's Facts no. 45 (Room 7, Hanoi Hilton)

November 17, 2001

 

Note:  In late 2000, CAG Stockdale (Room 7 SRO) asked his old friend, By Fuller to provide a list of the roommates of Room 7, Hanoi Hilton as of Christmas 1970.  The roommates of this room were extraordinary, both at the time of incarceration, and then later in freedom. 

 

Room 7 had the first organized church service to be held in the prisons of North Vietnam.  Permission was asked for by Stockdale, and twice denied by the Camp Commander.  The room was warned not to do it.  Room 7 decided to do it anyway.  They even had a choir. Their solemn service quickly caught the eye of the guards and authorities.  Armed guards rushed into the room to break up the "ominous" unauthorized meeting.  Ringleaders, Risner, Coker and Rutledge were led out of the room with guards at each arm (they were headed for more Heartbreak Hotel, solitary confinement and lots of punishment).  Bud Day was the one who then jumped up on his bed and started to sing "The National Anthem" and "God Bless America."  The entire room burst into song.  Then Rooms Six, Five, Four, Three, Two and One joined in succession.These songs of pride and defiance were loud enough to be heard outside the 15-foot walls of the Hanoi Hilton. As Robbie marched out the door, his back straightened with pride.  He held his head high. 

 

Robbie later recalled his thoughts as his roommates burst out in song, "I felt like I was nine feet tall and could go bear hunting with a switch."   Thirty one years later, on November 16, 2001 a nine-foot tall bronze statue of Brigadier General Robinson Risner, USAF would be dedicated on the central plaza of the United States Air Force Academy.  To Bud Day (principal speaker), Ross Perot (the sponsor of the project), and dozens of Robbie's Room-Seven roommates at the ceremony, it seemed more fitting to call the statue "life size." Photos: Dedication of B/Gen Robbie Risner's Statue - USAFA 16-18 November 2001

 

CAG, knowing what the V reaction would be, was heard to remark something to the effect, "Well, I guess we just can't stand prosperity."  Our camp, yet unnamed, from that moment on became known as "Camp Unity."The guards protested, but the songs continued.  Shortly thereafter, Vietnamese troops entered each room in force.  They had their hats secured with chinstraps in place, they had fixed bayonets, and they were mad!  They quickly backed the POWs against the walls with a bayonet in each POW's stomach.  The singing immediately ceased as the troops burst through the doors.  The V later claimed that they had put down a riot.  It wasn't a real riot, but it was a lot of funÍuntil the soldiers entered the room.  Several roommates of Room 7 were jerked out the next day.  The next day, Orson Swindle in Room 6 tapped the following message on the wall:  "Damn, you'd have to get in line to get in trouble in that crowd!!"

 

Thanks to By Fuller for the gut work of putting together this Mac's Facts.  Paul Galanti and Mike McGrath assisted.This historical document is dedicated to a fearless leader, Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale.  CAG, here's what the men of Room 7 accomplished:

 

 

 

Roster of "Room 7" on 26 December, 1970 (Hanoi Hilton):

Name:                                                  Shootdown rank:               Days captive:             

1.  Brady, Al                                       Cdr, USN                          2236

2.  Coker, George                                Lt (jg), USN                      2381

3.  Coskey, Ken                                  Cdr, USN                          1650

4.  Craner, Bob (Deceased)                 Maj, USAF                       1911

5.  Crayton, Render                            LCdr, USN                        2562

6.  Crow, Fred                                     LCol, USAF                      2170

7.  Crumpler, Carl                               LCol, USAF                      1713

8.  Daniels, Vern                                 Cdr, USN                          1966

9.  Daughtrey, Norlan                         Capt, USAF                      2751

10. Day, Bud                                      Maj, USAF                       2027

11. Denton, Jerry                                Cdr, USN                          2766

12. Doremus, Rob                               LCdr, USN                        2729

13. Dramesi, John                               Capt, USAF                      2163

14. Dunn, Howie (Deceased)              Maj, USMC                      2624

15. Fellowes, Jack                               LCdr, USN                        2381

16. Finlay, Jack                                   LCol, USAF                      1781

17. Franke, Bill                                   Cdr, USN                          2729

18. Fuller, By                                      Cdr, USN                          2060

19. Gillespie, Chuck (Deceased)         Cdr, USN                          1968

20. Guarino, Larry                              Maj, USAF                       2801

21. Gutterson, laird                             Maj, USAF                       1846

22. Hughes, Jim                                  LCol, USAF                      2130

23. James, Charlie                               Cdr, USN                          1761

24. Jenkins, Harry (Deceased)            Cdr, USN                          2648

25. Johnson, Sam                                Maj, USAF                       2494

26. Kasler, Jim                                    Maj, USAF                       2400

27. Kirk, Tom                                     LCol, USAF                      1964

28. Lamar, Jim                                    LCol, USAF                      2474

29. Larson, Swede                               LCol, USAF                      2130

30. Lawrence, Bill                               Cdr, USN                          2076

31. Ligon, Vern (Deceased)                 LCol, USAF                      1942

32. McCain, John                               LCdr, USN                        1966

33. McKnight, George                        Maj, USAF                       2655

34. Moore, Mel                                  Cdr, USN                          2185

35. Mulligan, Jim                                Cdr, USN                          2521

36. Pollard, Ben                                  Maj, USAF                       2120

37. Risner, Robbie                              LCol, USAF                      2706

38. Rivers, Wendy                              LCdr, USN                        2715

39. Rutledge, Howie (Deceased)         Cdr, USN                          2633

40. Schoeffel, Pete                              LCdr, USN                        1988

41. Shumaker, Bob                              LCdr, USN                        2923

42. Stockdale, Jim                               Cdr, USN                          2713

43. Stockman, Hervey                        LCol, USAF                      2093

44. Stratton, Dick                               LCdr, USN                        2250

45. Tanner, Nels                                 LCdr, USN                        2338

46. Webb, Ron                                    Capt, USAF                      2093

47. Gary Anderson (Deceased)            Lt (jg), USN                      2151

 

                                                            Total days in captivity:  108,116

                                                            Man-years in captivity:   296.21

 

Here's a brief history of the 47 men:

 

5  Made Admiral rank (Stockdale O-9, Lawrence O-9, Shumaker O-8, Denton O-8,

      Fuller O-8).

1   Made General rank (Risner O-7)

40   Others stayed in the military and attained the following ranks: (USMC 1 Col--Dunn; Navy 1 Cdr--Coker; AF 1 LCol--Daughtrey; AF 19 Colonels--Craner, Crow, Crumpler, Day, Dramesi, Finlay, Guarino, Gutterson, Hughes, Kasler, Johnson, Kirk, Lamar, Larson, Ligon, McKnight, Pollard, Stockman, & Webb; Navy 18 Captains--Brady, Coskey, Crayton, Daniels, Doremus, Fellowes, Franke, Gillespie, James, Jenkins, McCain, Moore, Mulligan, Rivers, Rutledge, Schoeffel, Stratton, & Tanner.  No. 47 yet to be determined.)

1      Became U.S. Congressmen (Johnson, Texas; McCain, Arizona).

2      Became U.S. Senators (Denton, Alabama; McCain, Arizona).

1      Was a Vice Presidential candidate (Stockdale).

1      Was a Presidential candidate (McCain).

2      Received the Medal of Honor (Stockdale, Day).  Day resumed his career as a lawyer.

3      Received the Navy Cross (Denton, Coker, Fuller).  (3 of the 4 POWs to receive this award were from this room.  Red McDaniel was the 4th  POW to receive the award).

4      Made escapes.  All were recaptured, all were tortured. (Dramesi, Coker, McKnight, Day).

2      Were jet aces from the Korea War (Risner: 9 kills in F-86; Kasler: 6 kills in F-86).

1      First pilot to fly over Russia in U-2 spy aircraft (Stockman).

1    Was shot down 4-15-1944 in Germany.  POW until April 1945.  26th mission in P-47 (Ligon)

1      Shot down 3 German planes during WW II.  Flying British aircraft (Guarino).  Flew 156 missions in Sicily, India, China and Indo-China.

1      Flew 62 missions in Korea War. Got credit for 1 kill, 1 damaged, 1 probable kill against

Mig ˝15s (Johnson).

7    Received the Air Force Cross (Kasler--3 awards; Risner--2 awards; Dramesi: 2 awards, Day, Kirk, Guarino & McKnight each received one award). 

4    Were Navy Test Pilots (Stockdale, Lawrence, Gillespie, & Franke).

1      Flew with the Thunderbirds (Johnson).

11   Were USNA graduates (Brady '51, Denton '47, Fellowes '56, Fuller '51, Gillespie '51, Lawrence '51, McCain '58, Rivers '52, Schoeffel '54, Shumaker '56, & Stockdale '47).

2      Were Landing Signal Officers (LSOs); (Stockdale, Tanner).

1      Escaped the B-52 community and got into combat flying the F-105G (Larson).

1    Has a daughter who is an astronaut, gone into space three times (789 hours).  She is presently in training as a crewmember of the International Space Station.  (Lawrence).         

1    Was a Navy Air Wing Commander (CAG): (Stockdale, (COMAIRGRU 16).

1      Commanded a Navy Carrier, USS America.  Later became Battle Group Commander ˝CARGRU 4 Commander (Fuller).

10   Were Squadron Commanders (Coskey (VA-85), Day (TBD), Denton (VA-75), Franke, Fuller (VA-76), Gillespie, Jenkins VA-163), Lawrence (VF-143), Ligon (11th TRS) and Larson (469th TFS) when shot down), Schoeffel (VA-83).

5      Were Squadron Executive Officers (Daniels, Moore, Mulligan, Rutledge, & Brady).  They were shot down before they could make Squadron Commander.

10   Authored books:

a.     Day: Return With Honor.

b.     Denton: When Hell Was In Session.

c.     Dramesi: Code of Honor.

d.     Guarino: A POW's Story: 2801 Days in Hanoi.

e.     Johnson: Captive Warriors: A Vietnam POW's Story.

f.      McCain: Faith of My Fathers.

g.     Mulligan: The Hanoi Commitment.

h.     Risner: The Passing of the Night.

i.      Rutledge: In the Presence of Mine Enemies.

j.      Stockdale: Courage Under Fire; In Love and War; A Vietnam Experience; Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.

4    Became Presidents/Commandants/Superintendents of institutions of higher learning: (Stockdale:President of the Citidel and President of the Naval War College; Lawrence: Superintendent of the USNA; Shumaker: Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School; and Í(TBD)Í; Denton: Commandant of Armed Forces Staff College).

2      Built their own airplanes: (Jenkins: Long EZ; Shumaker: Glassair).Pollard  is currently flying sail planes.

1      Was the first active duty Naval Aviator to fly Mach II (Lawrence).

1      Was first Naval Aviator to land on an aircraft carrier in 0/0 fog with a newly developed Aircraft Carrier Landing System (Gillespie).  Yes, it was an emergency low fuel state!

2      Naval Aviators were in the final selection groups (before shootdown) for the Mercury Astronaut Program (Lawrence, Shumaker).

 

Many of the members of Room 7 either served during wars prior to Vietnam, or who saw combat in theatres other than Vietnam:

WW II:

 

Vern Ligon: USA Air Corps, 25 missions, P-47 pilot, POW in Stalag Luft 1, 1944-45, escaped once, recaptured.

Larry Guarino: USA Air Corps, 156 missions in Sicily, India, China and Indo-China.  Spitfires.

Hervey Stockman: USA Air Corps.  68 missions, P-51.

Jim Kasler: USA Air Corps, 7 missions as tail gunner, B-29.

Harry Jenkins & Gordon Larson were Navy V5 cadetsÍand Fred Crow was an Army Air Corps aviation  cadet when WW II ended.

Bud Day: Corporal, USMC, 30 months in south and central Pacific, April 1942-Nov 1945.

By Fuller and Carl Crumpler: Enlisted in US Navy summer of 1945.  Saw boot camp by the end of WW II.

Fred Crow and Al Brady: were Navy dependents at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

 

Korea:

 

Robby Risner: USAF, 108 missions, F-86.  Mig Ace with 9 kills.

Jim Kasler: USAF, 100 missions, F-86, Mig Ace with 6 kills.

Howie Rutledge:  USN, 200 missions, F9F-2 as a Flying Midshipman.

Harry Jenkins: Served aboard USS Fred T. Berry (DD-141) off coast of Korea.  Flying Midshipman.

Tom Kirk: Flew missions in Korea (we need more information from Tom).

Larry Guarino: USAF, Air Defense Alert missions.

Jim Lamar: USAF, 100 missions in F-80 and P-51.

Wendy Rivers: Served on a destroyer off the coast of Korea.

Laird Gutterson: USAF, flew 60 missions, P-51.

Verlyne Daniels: Flew AD-4 missions, March-August 1953.

Sam Johnson: USAF, flew 62 missions, F-86, 1 kill, 1 probable, 1 damaged against Mig 15s.

Bud Day: USAF, air defense missions, F-84s.

Bill Lawrence: (F2H-3) and By Fuller (F9F-5) arrived off the coast of Korea in October 1953.  They were flying off the USS Oriskany.  Too lateÍthe war was over!

Fred Crow: Had various commands stateside during the Korean War.

Carl Crumpler: Flew F-86s at George AFB.  War was over too soon for him to participate.           

     

(We need more information from the men of this room to continue this paper.  In particular, we need Air Force positions such as Wing Cdr, Base Cdr, Ops Officer, or other terms us Navy guys aren't familiar with.  Please submit corrections or additions to: mmcgrath62@earthlink.net).