PRISONER IN VIETNAM. The Dewey Wayne Waddell Story | F-105 Thunderchief and the Hanoi Hilton

The Dewey Wayne Waddell story of how he ended up being a prisoner at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Dewey Wayne Waddell was taken captive after his F-105 Thunderchief was shot down by Vietnamese communist fighters in 1967, and he was released many years later, in 1973. North Vietnam’s treatment of American airmen shot down and captured over North Vietnam was a subject of controversy and concern throughout the Vietnam War. From the very beginning of the war, North Vietnam’s stated position was that American prisoners captured in North Vietnam were “war criminals” who had committed crimes against the North Vietnamese people in the course of an illegal war of aggression and that therefore the American prisoners were not entitled to the privileges and rights granted to prisoners of war (POW) under the terms of the Geneva Convention. The Vietnamese were accused of brutally torturing their captives – beating them with fists, clubs, and rifle butts, flaying them with rubber whips, and stretching their joints with rope in an effort to uncover information about American military operations. The Americans were forced to record taped “confessions” to war crimes against the Vietnamese people and to write letters urging Americans at home to end the war. Poor food and medical care were standard. Prisoners were often isolated to prevent communication with each other, in addition to being denied communication with family members. American prisoners sometimes died in captivity, from wounds sustained in combat, or at the hands of their captors. In Paris on January 27, 1973, American and Vietnamese representatives signed agreements for the cessation of hostilities and the repatriation of war prisoners. Operation Homecoming began the next month and ended in April. During that period, 591 American P.O.W.s returned home. Representatives of the U.S. military debriefed returnees for information regarding the more than 2,000 Americans still listed as missing. According to the government, none of the P.O.W.s were able to provide definite information about any remaining captives. Both the Nixon administration and the Vietnamese government concluded that all living P.O.W./M.I.A.s had been returned. Wayne Waddell was born in 1935 in Bremen, Georgia. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC Program at Georgia Tech on June 9, 1956, and went on active duty beginning June 3, 1957. Lt Waddell completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laredo AFB, Texas, in September 1958, and then completed all-weather interceptor training in the F-86 Sabre at Moody AFB, Georgia. He remained as an instructor pilot at Moody AFB until December 1960, and then served as an instructor at Craig AFB, Alabama, from January 1961 to June 1965. Capt Waddell then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his Masters’s Degree at the University of Southern California from June 1965 to September 1966. After completing F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training, he was assigned to the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, in April 1967. Maj Waddell was forced to eject from North Vietnam and became a Prisoner of War while flying his 47th combat mission on July 5, 1967. After spending 2,070 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973, and then attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Col Waddell then remained on the faculty of the Air War College until 1975, when he transferred to the Pentagon and worked on the Department of Defense Joint Service Committee on Air Munitions Standardization from 1975 to 1979. His final assignment was as director of U.S. Air Force Emergency Plans for the Eastern United States at Dobbins AFB, Georgia, from 1979 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 27, 1987. Col Waddell served as President of NAM-POWs Corp, the Organization of former Vietnam Prisoners of War, from 1981 to 1984.

Other Videos You Might Be Interested In

Col. Ken Cordier (2019) Vietnam POW

Excerpts from an Oct. 20, 2019 interview with Col. Ken Cordier, a former United States Air Force pilot who was an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam for 6 years, 3 months and 2 days during the Vietnam War. This is part of the Robert H. Jackson Center’s Defenders of Freedom project. For further information see www.roberthjacskon.org.

Read More »

JEREMIAH – The Movie

On July 18, 1965, U.S. Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton took off from the aircraft carrier USS Independence leading a 28-plane mission over the city of Thanh Hoa in North Vietnam. Denton’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire during the attack, and for the next eight long years, he would battle the North Vietnamese as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. As the senior American officer at the prison, Denton was forced by

Read More »

Your Story, His Story, the Legacy: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Wives

In the late 1960s, POW/MIA wives bucked government protocol and challenged the traditional role of “military wife.” These courageous women led by Sybil Stockdale on the West Coast, Jane Denton, Louise Mulligan, and Phyllis Galanti on the East Coast and later Helene Knapp in the Interior West organized to form the National League of POW/MIA Families. The women worked with Congress and the Nixon administration to demand accounting for their husbands and pursue their safe

Read More »

Prisoners of War Panel: Greatest Fears (Pt. 3) | Vietnam: Valor and Sacrifice Symposium

Inspiring stories of heroism and gripping tales of captivity of four Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients and four former Vietnam Prisoners of War. Each recalled their experiences and answered questions at the National Infantry Foundation’s “Vietnam: Valor and Sacrifice” symposium. The symposium was part of the dedication of the new Vietnam Memorial Plaza, featuring the Dignity Memorial® Vietnam Wall at the National Infantry Museum.

Read More »

Contact Us