Dieter Dengler: Heroic Immigrant Pilot Who Escaped POW Camp

Dieter Dengler was an American pilot in the Vietnam War. He was shot down, captured, and then spent several months in a small POW camp in Laos before his daring escape. He is the focus of a documentary, book, and movie about his capture and escape. Click here to learn more about this special pilot and what he endured during his imprisonment.

By Stuart Anderson

“A young Navy pilot drew a rare standing ovation yesterday after telling a televised hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee how he survived six months of captivity in Southeast Asia,” reported the Washington Post on September 17, 1966. “You don’t know what freedom is until you have escaped from Communist capture,” Lt. Dieter Dengler, 28, said in a lingering German accent, according to the Post. “I’m German-born but I’m 100 percent American.”

When Dieter was a boy in Germany, he witnessed Allied bombings of his village. Years later, when he saw an advertisement in an American magazine saying pilots were needed, Dieter decided to immigrate to America. With the help of a relative in the U.S., he took a boat to a new land and joined the U.S. Air Force.

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