Airmanship (Richard Brunhaver)

In 1967, there was a “unit” of approximately 300 Americans fighting the Vietnam War
from within a Hanoi prison. The unit—later named the 4th Allied POW Wing—was
located in the drab North Vietnamese capital. Within this unit, every man had the
same job: prisoner of war.
All—except three enlisted airmen—were officers, including me. Our job description was to
continue fighting for the United States while imprisoned.
The three enlisted airmen were SSgt. Arthur Cormier, Amn. Arthur Neil Black, and SSgt.
William A. Robinson. All were crewmen on helicopters that rescued aircrews from downed
aircraft. The three were shot down in 1965.
They were captured, taken prisoner, and ended up in the Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi (the
“Hanoi Hilton,” in POW parlance).
POWs were dressed in pajamas, and were usually disheveled as a result of infrequent
chances to bathe or shave. Given only two daily meals, and those of poor nutritional value,
the POWs were thin. Under these conditions, enlisted men, officers, Air Force, Navy, and
Marine Corps all looked about the same.
A general rule, though with multiple exceptions, was that the higher ranking a prisoner
was, the more torture he suffered. Art Cormier, Neil Black, and Bill Robinson were among
the exceptions. They were tortured like the officer POWs.

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