HILL, HOWARD JOHN
Name: Howard John Hill
Rank/Branch: United States Air Force/O2
Date of Birth: 07 February 1943 El Paso TX
Home City of Record: El Paso TX
Date of Loss: 16 December 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211200 North 1064800 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Other Personnel in Incident:
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: 730314 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
HOWARD J. HILL
Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 16, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973
I was born in El Paso, Texas, February 7, 1943. My father was career Air
Force, so I traveled extensively in my youth. I was graduated from high
school in Rantoul, Illinois in 1961 and was graduated from the United States
Air Force Academy, Colorado in 1965.
My military service consisted of pilot training and advanced training in the
F4D Phantom II prior to my assignment to Ubon, Thailand in May 1967. (I
returned to the states on leave, and my wife, Libby, and I were married
August 15, 1967. After fourteen beautiful days together, I returned to
Thailand.) On an early morning mission over North Vietnam on December 16,
1967, a Mig 21 fired an air-to-air missile into the engine exhaust of my
aircraft. Because of extensive damage to my aircraft, I was forced to eject
and parachuted into a heavily populated area northeast of Hanoi. After
capture by militia, I was transported to the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
The next five years were filled with hours of fear, frustration, and
boredom. To keep my mind active, and partially as a means of escape, I
composed poetry - writing, rewriting and rewriting again, all in my mind. My
thoughts expressed love, philosophy, patriotism, and touched on a myriad of
subjects. For our Independence Day, July 4, 1971, I composed a poem in honor
of those Americans who were willing to go wherever and whenever they were
needed to uphold and preserve those ideals they so cherished. It's difficult
to leave those you love and the land you love when duty calls. It is to the
select fraternity of those who did so, that I dedicate "We Few."
Beloved heritage is ours
To fondly cherish evermore.
By God's own hand sweet Freedom's flower
Was planted at our nation's door.
Warm blood of men enriched the soil
In hope it blossom-filled would thrive.
Though tyrants sent fierce weeds to foil
And hamper growth, it still survived.
The blooms will wither not nor die;
Some men will crave the fragrant air.
Unyielding Resolve reigns on high
With Duty calling those who care.
Much-needed care cannot be sloughed;
A few must bear the load for all.
From sun-soaked shores to windswept bluffs
We few will answer Duty's call.
Since my release on March 14, 1973, my homecoming has been one of the
greatest periods of my life, thanks to all the beautiful Americans who are
lucky enough to live here. Libby and I plan to remain an Air Force family. I
feel, and Libby agrees, that the best way I can help America is by serving
in the United States Air Force. We accept what has happened. We are looking
eagerly and confidently toward the future.
PERSONAL MESSAGE: Freedom! What a beautiful and majestic word.
Unfortunately many of us have thought of it in the more abstract and
impersonal sense, more in terms of those items in the Bill of Rights rather
than the more personal view. Up to the point of my capture I, too, viewed
freedom in this manner, but when the complete realization of my own
predicament fully settled upon me, my ideas relating to freedom began
undergoing subtle changes. Now the lack of all freedoms became something
personal! Freedom means much more to me than just freedom of speech,
religion and assembly; it means all the little things too. It means freedom
of movement from one room to another, or in and out of doors; the ability to
get a glass of fresh water; to use a bathroom; to see and speak with
friends. It means to be able to communicate openly with family and friends;
to be master of your own destiny; to be capable of doing what you desire
when you desire; to breathe fresh air; to voice your assent or dissent; to
live in a home, city or state of your choice; to be able to travel,
sight-see and take a vacation; to work, to read, to entertain yourself; to
take care of your own: home, yard and shrubs; to play golf, tennis or swim;
to participate in Church, school and fraternal activities: and many other
things. The utter solitude and loneliness each of us experienced has caused
me to cherish so much more deeply what we have here in the United States of
America; what some from within, and many from without, would like to destroy
and deprive us of forever.
The esteem and pride which I feel for those who we termed "Old Guys" (those
captured prior 1971), for their endurance of pain, suffering, loneliness,
boredom, despair, disease, total excision from normal society and the
attempted destruction of their minds through propaganda, as well as the
total lack of any daily news of information, were some of the most important
reasons for my desire to live as honorably as possible so as not to cause
one blemish to be placed upon that record which they had established. Being
associated closely with these heroic men at that time will always be among
the greatest thrills of my life.
Those bleak days of frustration and family trial have their brighter moments
which will, with time, hopefully, overshadow all the more grim memories.
Howard Hill retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and
his wife Libby reside in Florida.
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