Commander David Wheat and His Seven-Year Stay at the Hanoi Hilton

“There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war, and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very hard in military or personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.” ~John F. Kennedy

We often think of the challenges we face choosing a career, or a buying a home. We complain when we have difficulty finding a parking spot close to where we plan to eat or shop. Seldom do we consider the privileges of our freedom, that is, until we reflect upon the sacrifices others have made to preserve these freedoms.

One such man who paid an exceptional price in the service of our country is a local Duluthian and UMD graduate who found himself as a guest, against his will, in the infamous Hoa Lo Prison for seven years and four months.

What follows are excerpts from his story and why veterans in this community went to the lengths they did to raise funds to honor his service with a monument to be placed at the Duluth International Airport, though in his modesty his desire is to honor all POWs and soldiers who put their lives on the line in the name of freedom.

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