Edwin A. ‘Ned’ Shuman, Navy aviator and POW, dies at 82

On Nov. 29, 1970, 43 U.S. servicemen gathered in the Hoa Lo prison compound, often called the “Hanoi Hilton,” and performed an act of retaliation— a church service.

Nine days earlier, after a failed attempt by U.S. Special Forces to liberate the prisoners, the North Vietnamese captors had removed them from their cells and incarcerated them in a single holding area. For several men, it was the first face-to-face encounter with friends they had made through tap-code communication.

The first Sunday after they were removed from their cells, they attempted to hold a church service but were threatened with severe punishment. Seeing the men’s disappointment, then-Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. “Ned” Shuman — a naval aviator who would spend five years as a POW and who died Dec. 3 at age 82 — stepped forward. “I want to know — person by person— if you are really committed to holding church,” he said, asking each of the other 42 men for support until he achieved a unanimous commitment.

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