Pilot Recalls ‘Bad Attitude’ Made Him Suffer in Hanoi (James Mulligan)

To the North Vietnamese, Capt. James A. Mulligan Jr. had a “bad attitude.” As a result, he suffered heavily during his seven years in Hanoi prison.

He spent 42 months in solitary confinement during the first four years, and for 16 of those months he was kept in a camp in which he and 10 other pilots who were considered troublemakers were placed in leg irons for up to 16 hours a day.

Captain Mulligan’s experiences are a facet of the full story of prison life inside North Vietnam—a story that is just beginning to emerge following the release of the last American prisoner of war. He described them in a four‐and‐a‐half‐hour interview at his home here and emphasized that he was not speaking for his fellow prisoners.

“There was a disadvantage in being senior,” said the captain, who was the fifth ranking Navy officer in one camp. “Every one of us was trying to oppose the V [the North. Vietnamese], but it was the senior guys who were leading the opposition. The senior guys who were hack ing it got punished more and were spun off from the other guys.” Being “spun off” meant solitary confinement in Captain Mulligan’s case.

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