U.S. Air Force Capt. William R. Austin II and his aircraft commander, Maj. Ivan D. Appleby, had out-maneuvered certain death hundreds of times before they got hit. A fighter pilot with the storied “Triple Nickle” 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Austin had flown 80 combat missions over North Vietnam in the powerful F-4 Phantom II, despite the enemy’s relentless attempts to make each a one-way trip. By the time he landed his 80th mission in the fall of 1967, he’d earned a Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 10 Air Medals.
The Air & Space Forces Association recognized American prisoners of war during its 2023 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, as part of the association’s ongoing