Glory Denied: The Vietnam Saga of Jim Thompson, America's Longest-Held Prisoner of War

Glory Denied: The Vietnam Saga of Jim Thompson, America's Longest-Held Prisoner of War

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393338355
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 840,764
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Tom Philpott is a syndicated columnist and freelancer writer. His weekly column,
“Military Update,” appears in more than forty daily newspapers in the United
States and overseas. He lives in Centreville, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


DYING


Jim Thompson I don't really know how far they would havegone, whether they would have killed me or not. I don't really know.But from the 21st of July 1964, my most recent escape attempt, untilThe 18th of August that year, I knew one of two things was going to happen.I would either go insane or I would die. Either my mind or my bodywas going to crack.

    One thing they harped on was "This isn't worth dying for." That morethan anything preyed on my mind. I had some intelligence training, so Iunderstood what they were doing. But even knowing, I couldn't change it.That was the hell of it. I couldn't change it. When they control your environmentso completely, your morale can be manipulated at will. You canfight it to a certain point; you can minimize the effects of it. You can'tcompletely get away from it.

    Longer interrogation sessions, less and less sleep. The simple task ofcutting wood became almost insurmountable. To pick up an ax, to benddown and blow on a fire, was enough to make me pass out. Just fromweakness. They placed all manner of frustrating situations in front of me.Interrogation would last until well after dark. Then I had to scroungearound for wood. Or they waited to end a session until it was raining andthe wood was too wet to build a fire. They took my boots and made me gobarefoot in the jungle. They woke me up in the middle of the night andearly in the morning and forced me to cut brush around the hut. Anythingto cause me physical pain, to lose rest. It was a series of little things thattogether made daily life miserable.

   Longer and longer interrogation sessions, more and more pressure, andfinally the physical torture. Beatings, mostly, with bamboo across my back,legs, arms. An interrogator would stand in front of me and a guard behind.He would nod, signaling the guard to punctuate his remarks. Not an outrightbeating. Just punctuation. "You must answer!" Snap!

    One day he said, "You must abide by regulations of the camp." I said Iunderstood. He said, "The regulations are that you must not leave yourhut without permission. You must obey the guards. Do you agree?"

    "Yeah," I said, "I understand."

    The next day he called me out and blandly said, "All right. Now we'reready to take your statement."

    "What statement?"

    "You agreed yesterday to answer all our questions."

    "I never agreed to that!"

    "You agreed to obey camp regulations! One regulation is you must doeverything you're told! Now write a statement!"

    "I refuse" Snap!

    Far more severe than the physical abuse was the constant mental pressure.It's hard to describe in a meaningful way. I've racked my brain to figurehow to portray this. But without the threat of death, you can't recreateit. I sincerely felt the end was within sight. I didn't think these people weregoing to stop and I didn't think I would crack. I was absolutely determinednot to crack. And I believed they would continue until ... until I died.


Excerpted from GLORY DENIED by TOM PHILPOTT. Copyright © 2001 by Tom Philpott. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Foreword Senator John McCain xi

Author's Note xv

Vietnam Map xvii

Introduction xix

Part I Prisoner 1

1 Dying 3

2 The Pit 5

3 Key West 8

Part II America's Son, 1933-1963 13

4 Bergenfield 15

5 Alyce 21

6 Marriage 26

7 The Army 31

8 Special Forces 40

9 Orders 46

10 Gone Again 52

Part III War and Dreams, 1964-1973 57

11 In-Country 59

12 Camp Khe Sanh 63

13 Patrols 73

14 Friendly Fire 80

15 Final Letters 88

16 Capture 93

17 Missing 96

18 Confinement 110

19 Harold 116

20 Massachusetts 130

21 A New Life 131

22 Settling In 140

23 North Vietnam 145

24 Christmas'67 151

25 Bao Cao 155

26 Camp K-77 165

27 Roommates 170

28 Shaping Up 186

29 Rockpile 195

30 Escape 199

31 Peace Talks 211

32 No Bracelet 221

33 Going Home 226

Part IV The War Comes Home, 1973-1980 239

34 The First Lie 241

35 Reunion 250

36 The Children 258

37 Pulling Up Roots 267

38 Power of Faith 277

39 The White House 289

40 Hurting Time 295

41 Wild Streak 303

42 Dreamhouse 310

43 Broken-Hearted 315

44 Divorced 320

45 New Partners 326

46 Tennessee 333

47 Simple Negligence 339

48 Place in the Sun 347

49 Bridge Players 356

50 Turnaround 364

Part V No Reprieve, 1981-1992 373

51 Captive Once More 375

52 Rehabilitation 381

53 Disappeared 387

54 Separate Moves 390

55 Murder Suspect 401

56 A Tennessee Trial 407

57 The Sentence 416

58 Survivor 421

Epilogue 429

Postscipt: Ten Years On 431

Acknowledgments 437

Biographical Sketches 441

Illustration Credits 449

Index 451

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