Name: Joseph Charles Plumb
Rank/Branch: United States Navy, pilot
Unit: VF 114
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Mission KS
Date of Loss: 19 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204800 North 1054400 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B
Missions: 75
Other Personnel in Incident: Gareth Anderson, returnee

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.


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
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: May 19, 1967
Released: February 18, 1973

I grew up in Kansas and attended the Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating
in 1964. I won my Navy wings of gold in 1965 and launched on the aircraft
carrier, Kitty Hawk, in November of 1966. I was shot down the following
spring, on the birthday of Ho Chi Minh, May 19, 1967, just south of Hanoi. I
was captured immediately as was my radar intercept officer, Gary Anderson.

Our F4B Phatom lay crumpled in a smouldering wreckage near the small
village. The peasants stripped me of all my flight gear, blindfolded me,
and put me into a pen with a buffalo bull where I got the opportunity for
the first, and hopefully the last time in my life, to play matador. But
having no red cape, I was unable to attract a great deal of attention from
the fairly docile bull. So it was necessary for the Vietnamese to run around
to the aft side of this animal and harass him into making sweeps upon my
innocent body with his horns. I received no permanent injury. And I look
back upon it with more humor than terror.

I was held prisoner for five years and nine months. During that time I had
the pleasure and honor of serving with some great, great men in the United
States Military. I feel that I made some friendships there which will be
very strong for the fest of my life.

I was honored to serve as Chaplain for nearly two years and found that our
unity through our faith in God and in our love for Country were the great
strengths which kept us going through some very difficult times.

I returned to this country after being released on the eighteenth of
February 1973 and found a very warm, wonderful America. The face of this
country had changed, but the heart, I believe, has not; and I've been
greeted by people from all ages and all walks of life with a very wonderful
"Welcome home, Charlie." "

Possibly a bit of humor here, if I may call it that. I received over 400
bracelets bearing my name from people all over the world, and everywhere I
stop, I find friends-wonderful, close friends-people who consider me as a
brother because they've been wearing for so long a bracelet with my name on
it. And several fairly humorous anecdotes have come from this:

In a mixed crowd of 15 or 20 people, a young lady ran up to me and from
several feet away, she exclaimed: "Charlie Plumb! I've been sleeping with
you for the last two years!" Well, this got my attention and before I could
hush her up or look her over, she said, "and I've taken well over 500 baths
with you!" By this time, she was right up next to me, holding up her arm,
and the final blow, the coup de grace-was her words, "and you've been right
here with me all the time on my wrist."

December 1996
Joseph Plumb retired from the United States Naval Reserve as a Captain. He
and his wife Cathy reside in California.

The Qualities of Survival

Several years ago I found myself a long way from home in a
small prison cell. As a prisoner of war, I was tortured,
humiliated, starved and left to languish in squalor for six

It's important that you get a vivid mental picture of this
scene. Try your best to smell the stench in the bucket I called
my toilet and taste the salt in the corners of my mouth from my
sweat, my tears and my blood. Feel the baking tropical heat in a
tin-roofed prison cell - not that you'll ever be a P.O.W. If I am
effective in these few moments we spend together, you'll see that
the same kind of challenges you face as a teenager, a student, a
leader, or a parent, are the same basic challenges I faced in a
prison cell: feelings of fear, loneliness, failure and a
breakdown of communication. More importantly, your response to
those challenges will be the same response I had to have in the
prison camp just to survive.

What qualities do you have within you that would allow you
to survive in a prison camp? Please pause here, think about this
question, and write in the margin of this page at least five
different qualities necessary for survival. (If you've written
faith, commitment or dedication, you've already broken the code.)

As I worked my way through the first several months and then
years of imprisonment, I found I already had a foundation of
survival tools learned in life from my parents, preachers, youth
leaders, and teachers. And the life-saving techniques I used in
that prison camp had more to do with my value system, integrity
and religious faith than anything I had learned from a textbook.

Sound like your life? The adversities you face in your life
can be just as debilitating to you as six years in a Communist
prison camp could have been to me. Now here's the test: The next
time you have a huge problem facing you, turn back to this page
and read not my writing but your writing in the margin. You'll
find that the same factors you've written here, which would serve
you well in a prison camp, will serve you even better in the
challenge of everyday life.

By Charlie Plumb
from A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor
Hansen & Barry Spilchuk

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