Naval aviator survived 6 years in Hanoi Hilton (Byron Fuller)

Navy pilot Byron Fuller spent almost six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, where his battered body was tortured and starved, where he endured more than two years in solitary confinement in a 4-by-7-foot cell.

Upon his release in 1973 from Hoa Lo, a prison camp known to the world as the Hanoi Hilton, he strode across the tarmac at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, a huge smile on his face, with his wife and four children by his side. He briefly addressed the crowd gathered to greet him: “America, America, how beautiful you are … Tonight my cup runneth over.”

He then promptly took up again the life that was his: As husband, father, Navy man.

After leaving the Navy base following his speech, the family drove to the house in Jacksonville’s Venetia neighborhood that his wife, Mary Anne, had bought while he was gone, when she didn’t know if was alive or dead. After a quick walk-through, he and Mary Anne drove to the beach to spend a few days together, to get to know each other again.

Then he came home to his children, his son, Bob Fuller, said. He rode horses with his three girls, went to a car race near Tallahassee with his son. He’d been gone from them some seven years, and there was a lot to catch up on.

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