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“The real cheer went up when the captain came on the intercom and said that we had flown out of Vietnamese air space.” (Audio interview, 29:46)

   Richard Lyman Bates
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing
Service Location: Edwards Air Force Base and Sacramento, California; Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand; Germany
Rank: Major
POW: Yes
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After six months flying missions out of the Ubon Royal Air Force Base in Thailand, and with approximately a hundred and thirty-five missions under his belt, Air Force Major Richard Lyman Bates was shot down over enemy territory on October 5, 1972. Captured by the North Vietnamese, he spent the next six months as a prisoner of war. To keep his mind sharp, he made endless mental lists of the names of states, capital cities, and people he knew. Returning to the States in March 1973, he served in the Air Force for 17 more years, which he credits with letting him follow his passion for flying airplanes.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (41 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Spent the first six months flying combat operations; flew about a hundred and thirty-five missions; dropping laser guided bombs; shot down October 5, 1972. (02:36) Captured immediately; spent next two months traveling to Hanoi; reunited with his pilot; reaching Hanoi Hilton; physical abuse. (02:32) Reciting the Lord’s Prayer; doing mind games and mental activities to occupy time; making lists of people he knew in high school and college. (03:05)
Given just enough food to sustain life; medical care almost nonexistent; was not able to receive Red Cross packages. (04:05) Getting news of potential release in March of 1973; logistics of release. (05:35) 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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