Captive Warriors: A Vietnam POW’s Story

“If hell is here on earth, it is located on an oddly shaped city block in downtown Hanoi, Vietnam,” writes Sam Johnson, who lived in that hell for seven years.

Col. Samuel R. Johnson, U.S. Air Force, was shot down in April, 1966, while flying his twenty-fifth mission over North Vietnam. Shortly after his capture and imprisonment in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, Colonel Johnson was labeled a diehard by his enemies. His creative and innovative resistance of prison authority earned him banishment to the high-security prison unit where, unknown to U.S. military intelligence, Ho Chi Minh kept the eleven prisoners believed to be a serious threat to his war efforts. For two years Johnson and the other ten endured leg irons, malnutrition, and appallingly primitive conditions while imprisoned in tiny cubicles built in the earthen-walled facility dug out of the center courtyard of North Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense in downtown Hanoi.

Captive Warriors is the story of Alcatraz, where courage and humor thrived amid the madness. It is the story of Colonel Johnson’s seven-year battle for his life, limbs, and sanity. It is the story of the hundreds of captured warriors–American POWs–whose lives lay in the hands of angry and vengeful North Vietnamese captors. The book also chronicles America’s trek into political confusion and chaos throughout the course of the Vietnam War.

More than a story, Captive Warriors is a tribute to all the American prisoners of war who, without benefit of the conventional weapons of war, waged daily battles against an insidious enemy disdainful of the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and who, in the end, became the final pawn in the peace settlement that ended the longest war in American history.

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