Vietnam POW outraged over flag removal at tavern (Samuel Vaughan)

The Summerville man is modest, even while pointing at a display box of medals he’s earned through blood and sweat.

Samuel Vaughan spent 16 months imprisoned at Hanoi in Vietnam. He was captured on April 18, 1971, only three months after arriving in Vietnam as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force.

“There was a MiG 21 that came up under us behind and the next thing I knew, the airplane exploded. We ejected,” Vaughan said.

He landed in Northern Vietnam in the Quang Ninh province and immediately hid, wedging his body in the ground and covering himself with leaves. The next morning Vaughan says he was discovered and his mind raced as he looked at his weapon still in the holster.

“The gun started sliding off my lap and so I reached down and grabbed it. When I did, they started shooting all around me and I decided this is not John Wayne. So I took the gun and dropped it and they all came running up the hill laughing. They had got their man,” Vaughan said.

The airman says he was marched for hours to a jeep where he was then transported to Hanoi where he started his 16-month stretch of imprisonment alone in a small cell. Despite the grim appearance of the situation, Vaughan had faith he’d return to U.S. soil one day.

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