How POW’s In Vietnam Mentally Battled Their Captors (Hugh Stafford)

“The key word for all of us at first was fragility. Each of us, before we were ever in shouting distance of another American, was made to “take the ropes.” That was a real shock to our systems — and as with all shocks, its impact on our inner selves was a lot more impressive and lasting and important than to our limbs and torsos. These were the sessions where we were taken down to submission and made to blurt out distasteful confessions of guilt and American complicity into antique tape recorders…”

— Admiral James Stockdale, Stockdale on Stoicism II: Master of My Fate

In the article written above by Admiral Stockdale, he describes the incredible shock he experienced in his capture after being shot down over North Vietnam early in the war. His first experience after disconnecting from his parachute was to be beaten by a crowd in a village. After suffering a badly broken leg, he was forced to “take the ropes” as he referred to it.

In this torture, shown in the picture above, a prisoner had his arms “cuffed” above his head while seated on the ground. Their head was then pushed between their knees, often helped along by someone standing on your back and pushing down with their feet.

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