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“It seemed like half the US Air Force came back to try to get me out of there.” (Video interview, 36:48)

   Thomas Nelson Moe
Collection image
Thomas Moe [detail from video]
War: Cold War; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy; Air Force
Unit: Naval Reserve; 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing; 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron; 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron; 16th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron; 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron,
Service Location: Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam; Hanoi, North Vietnam
Rank: Colonel
POW: Yes
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Conducting a bombing run in January 1968, a weapons malfunction forced Air Force Colonel Thomas Moe to bail out over enemy territory. After three days on the ground successfully avoiding capture, he was eventually discovered and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese for the next five years. Although offered an early release, he refused, on the grounds that POWs should be sent home according to the order of their capture. After further pressure to accept a release, he went on an eight-day hunger strike. Constant torture and beatings led to extensive kidney damage; through the care of his roommate, Myron, and his mental resolve, he survived until his release in March 1973.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) (88 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
On bombing run, bomb released from plane next to his explodes; shrapnel damages his plane; forced to bail out; radioed for help; rest of crew survives crash and is rescued. (04:15) Thoughts as he is parachuting down to ground; landed in tree; immediately shot at by enemy; took off running; evading enemy on foot; lasted for three days before capture. (03:60) Traveling by foot and canoe; kept feigning injury to slow them down; able to escape twice, but recaptured; arrival at Hanoi Hilton; initial interrogations. (02:18)
North Vietnamese were looking for POWs to feature in propaganda; initially not terribly mistreated; offered early release and refuses; hunger strike to avoid being sent home early; subsequent beatings. (04:03)  

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  October 26, 2011
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