POW recounts Operation Linebacker II (Peter Giroux)

It was December 26, 1972. The vibration from bombs exploding in the distance resonated through the walls of the North Vietnamese prison.

In his cell, an American pilot peered through the barred windows where he saw the silhouette of a B-52 Stratofortress in flames. He could only watch as the same fate that lead him to his prison cell was handed over to his fellow Airmen.

This American pilot is retired Col. Peter Giroux, a B-52 pilot and a captain at the time, who now resides in Kansas. He was taken as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese December 22, 1972, while supporting Operation Linebacker II.

Operation Linebacker II was an 11–day aerial bombing campaign that occurred near the end of the Vietnam Conflict. The heavy bombing strikes were an effort by the U.S. to get the North Vietnamese government to return to the discussion table for a cease-fire agreement. In the first three days of the operation, the U.S. lost nine B-52s, according to the Air Force historical fact sheet.

On day four of the offensive, Giroux and his crew were sent to Hanoi on a bombing mission. This particular target was right in the middle of the city where enemy Surface-to-Air Missile defenses were concentrated.

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