TRIMBLE, JACK R.
Name: Jack R. Trimble
Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 13th TFS
Date of Birth: 01 September 1947
Home City of Record: Sumpter SC
Date of Loss: 27 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 203100 North 1053200 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Missions: 99 North Vietnam 286 Total
Other Personnel in Incident: Carl Jefcoat, 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.
REMARKS: 730329 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
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
JACK R. TRIMBLE
Lieutenant - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 27, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
Lt. Jack R. Trimble was born 1 September 1947. His father was an officer in
the Air Force and, as a result, Jack's childhood years were spent in the
usual gypsy-like movement from base to base. He attended Culver Military
Academy for high school. In 1965, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and
attended the Air Force Academy Prep School. The following year, Jack won a
congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy. He graduated and was
commissioned on 3 June 1970.
He tried to get a waiver that would allow him to go to pilot training, but
was unsuccessful. So, he set his goal on becoming a weapons system operator
in an F-4 Phantom II with hopes of getting a chance for pilot training at a
later date. In June of l971, Lt. Trimble was awarded his navigator wings and
was assigned to an F-4 replacement training unit at George AFB, California.
He left the United States in March of 1972 for his first operational
assignment at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand.
From April until December of 1972 Lt. Trimble flew 175 combat sorties with
82 of those over North Vietnam. On 27 December 1972, Desoto 03, piloted by
Major Carl Jefcoat and Lt. Jack Trimble was hit by hostile fire of an
unknown origin forcing the crew to bail out over North Vietnam. Several days
later, they were confirmed as POWs. Lt. Trimble and Major Jefcoat were
released on 29 March 1973 along with the fourth and last group of POWs to be
released by the North Vietnamese.
After a period of convalescent leave, Lt. Trimble will attend Squadron
Officer's School at Maxwell AFB. From there, he will be going to pilot
training at Williams AFB, Arizona.
Hundreds of dark almond shaped eyes stared at me. Some showed pity, a few
flickered with hatred, but most showed curiosity and awe. I wondered how my
eyes must look to them. My face must have betrayed the helplessness and fear
that I felt. I was the invader in this North Vietnamese village. A captured
American pilot was an uncommon occurrence. The people kept their distance
even though I was tightly bound and constantly watched by two armed guards.
There were more villagers arriving. I watched the group grow in the waning
twilight. This night was going to be a memorable one, I thought to myself.
Six hours earlier this night did not mean any more to me than any other
night at Udorn, RTAFB. However, a North Vietnamese pilot in a Mig-21 changed
all that in the blink of an eye. I heard shooting in the area where my pilot
had landed so I suspected that he had also been captured. I tried to hide
until nightfall but a farmer and his wife found me, and shortly afterwards I
was taken prisoner by twenty or thirty armed Vietnamese. I stood in the
center of the village listening to the crowd grow louder. I sensed trouble
brewing. I could feel the electric sensation that began to run through them.
More and more of the faces looked angry. The children started throwing small
pebbles at me.
So this was it, I thought to myself. Maybe I was going to die soon at the
hands of a Vietnamese mob. The thought of death was not new. I had learned
to live with it during the nine months of combat. I never considered it as
being reserved for the other guy. Each time that I flew to North Vietnam I
was mentally prepared for something to happen to me. Now I was captured, but
I did not feel that I was going to be killed.
A young man stepped out in front of me and started shouting to the crowd.
Their eyes narrowed and their tight lipped faces watched me. The man turned
to me and sneered. Then he spit in my face. I didn't feel any anger or
revulsion. I just stared back at him and then at the crowd. I was a prisoner
of war and I did not expect to be treated with kindness. My antagonizer drew
back his fist and smashed me across the left side of my jaw. I saw him start
to swing and watched the blow come. When it reached my face, I jerked my
head to the right and deflected most of the blow. He must have hit me harder
than I thought because I could taste blood and my nose began to bleed. I
looked back at the young man and watched his eyes. Much of the jittery
feeling had left the crowd. Another blow fell, only this time it was much
softer-almost as if he was not sure of himself. The crowd did not approve of
my mistreatment and an older man stepped forward and physically stopped the
younger man from striking me again. They argued briefly, and I think the
young man lost much face by hitting me.
The crowd parted and a boy came forward with a tin cup of very hot water.
The guards untied my arms which by now were quite numb. The sun had set and
the temperature was dropping. All I was wearing was my underwear. I wrapped
my hands around the hot cup, sighed deeply, and began to shake and shiver in
the night air.
Later that night I was taken to the Hanoi Hilton where I was interrogated
and placed in an empty cell. A lot of things happened in the following weeks
and months. On the 29th of March 1973, I was released along with the last
known group of American POW's in North Vietnam.
That first night comes back to me often though. I wonder why those villagers
did not mistreat me the way they had so many other captured pilots. Maybe
their government had threatened them if any of us were injured. I prefer to
believe that, even in the sophisticated, depersonalized warfare that
characterized the conflict between our countries, a flicker of human
compassion showed itself. I wonder if those villagers remember the American
pilot who bowed oriental style in thanks when he was given hot tea to drink.
Jack Trimble retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
and his wife Rachel reside in Tennessee.
Jan 27 1998
Fernando Alexander has some nice things to say about a fellow POW:
This past week just got me to thinking. The end to the Madden
testimonial reminded me of the little things done for one another
might have been very meaningful to the recipient. I want to tell you
of my experience while the preformer is still kicking. Jack Trimble
is my hero. Jack was the sneakiest POW I knew. He used to visit
other buildings in the Zoo carrying messages and getting news. He
even snuck into the office of one of the prison administrators,
retrieved some undelivered mail about two years old and delivered it
to the rightful owner. Jack was our code man. He was one of the people
that kept our morale up and sanity in tact. I pass this on in hope
that it will be the first in a long series of accollades for the
living to receive and know that their services were appreciated.
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