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“You try not to worry too much about things you have no control over.” Audio Interview, 15:42.

   Gordon Ross Nakagawa
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy
Unit: VA-165 (Attack Squadron); VA-196 (Attack Squadron); USS Ranger (CV 61); USS Enterprise (CVN 65); USS Constellation (CV 64); USS Yorktown (CV 10)
Service Location: Vietnam
Rank: Captain
POW: Yes
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In 1958, when Gordon Nakagawa became a Naval aviator out of college, the American military’s main concern was Cold War strategy. Ten years later, Nakagawa was flying bombing missions over Vietnam in a new A-6 Intruder, capable of flying at night and in all kinds of weather. On a subsequent tour of duty in Vietnam, Nakagawa’s plane was brought down and he became a “guest” of the North Vietnamese at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Nakagawa called on his training and the shared experiences of previous POWs to survive his stay.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (86 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Beginnings of his career in the Navy; assignment to first A-6 squadron. (03:11) His two combat cruises with the A-6 Intruder squadron to Vietnam; conducting bombing missions at night; hit in the wing by an enemy shell. (03:23) In 1972, he was assigned to another A-6 squadron deployed to Vietnam; flying in Linebacker 2 operation; shot down in December. (15:30)
Parachuting onto land, about a mile from the coast; deciding to evade capture; having to leave an injured comrade behind; lack of treatment for that man and his early release at the war’s end. (06:23) Captured in the rice paddies; lessons learned in retrospect about evasion. (04:39) Being transported, blindfolded and bound, from Haiphong to the Hanoi Hilton. (09:11)
Encouraged to be in an established camp like the Hilton; recalling lessons from his training; no water for his first three days; captors attacking his “bad attitude.” (05:33) North Vietnamese backing off from posture of defiance in the wake of U.S. bombing campaign; the use of “proper” bombing strategy. (01:14) 

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  October 26, 2011
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