Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day One of Many

Hanoi Hilton 

This is the photograph released by the Vietnamese after Dad was shot down on July 15, 1965. Mom describes in her diary how she had taken "the younger children," Michael, me and Mary, to see the movie Mary Poppins and, for the first time since Dad left, had a premonition and wept in the theatre.  The next day, a Navy official knocked on the door at 3125 Watergate Lane to give her the news.  "He's alright."the officer said, meaning "He's not dead."  Vietnamese confirmation that he'd been captured, in the form of a statement accompanied by this photo, was nearly a week in coming.  Dad's book describes the shoot-down and the fact that he tried to evade capture by submerging in a river and breathing through a reed before being taken in by armed civilians, briefly held in a village, then transported over bumpy road to the Hanoi Hilton.

My memory of that day is that Mom sent the little kids across the street to the Armstrongs.  We had lunch and spent the day with them.  We'd spent many hours playing in that house, but that day, the atmosphere was so odd that I was afraid to ask for a glass of milk to wash down my peanut butter and jelly.  At some point, we went someplace in the car (to buy a bike, I think, but that seems odd) and the news came on the radio that my Dad and Bill Tschudy had been captured.  Mr. Armstrong quickly turned off the radio.  None of us said anything, but I was acutely aware of his kindness in trying to protect us.  That night, we went to the Carvers who, no doubt, enfolded us in the warmth that was always the Carver home.

Off to a shaky start on this blog topic!  It's tricky to make the story cohesive, because I had to start at the end of the story and move backward.  Never mind.

For now, I'll skip to the next picture...

I bought this photograph off eBay:  Dad's interview with a Japanese reporter that made its way to America...  As many people know, Dad blinked the word torture in morse code under the guise of his eyes being affected by the bright lights, thus alerting the world to the POW's treatment.  He received quite a bit of recognition for that.  And, rightly so, of course.  However, the fact that, during the interview, when asked how he felt about the war, he replied that he didn't know what was going on in the war, but that whatever was the position of his government, he supported it and would for the rest of his life, was the toughest thing to do and the accomplishment of which he is most proud.  This despite having been tortured prior to the interview and knowing well that he'd be tortured afterward.  


Kimmy Coleslaw said...

Something about that released picture of your Dad reminds me of Jake?? Does it you??

Madeleine Doak said...

Not in this one particularly, but there's a family resemblance that jumps out at me in some of them.