One of these Vietnam War POWs spent 10 months in a ‘tiger cage.’ What happened to the other was even worse (Mark Smith, Wallingford)

Staff Sgt. Ken Wallingford had only days left to serve in the US Army when he found himself trapped – and seconds away from being burned alive.

He’d spent the previous night hiding in a bunker with another soldier at a base that had been overrun by the North Vietnamese forces and was already nursing 17 shrapnel wounds when he realized his position had been spotted. His life flashed before his eyes, frame by frame, like an old 8mm film.

“We started smelling gasoline on top of the bunker that we were in and knew a Molotov cocktail was coming next,” he recalled.

He didn’t wait for that to happen. Instead he scrambled out of a porthole and found himself face-to-face with the North Vietnamese. “The enemy descended upon us, took our weapons and anything visible, my wallet, the money,” Wallingford said. He knew worse was to come.

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