POW spends 2,000th day in captivity

POW spends 2,000th day in captivity

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U.S. First taken prisoner when his plane was shot down on August 5, 1964, he became the longest-held POW in U.S. history. Alvarez was downed over Hon Gai during the first bombing raids against North Vietnam in retaliation for the disputed attack on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

Alvarez was released in 1973 after spending over eight years in captivity, the first six months as the only American prisoner in North Vietnam. From the first day of his captivity, he was shackled, isolated, nearly starved, and brutally tortured. Although he was among the more junior-rank prisoners of war, his courageous conduct under horrendous conditions and treatment helped establish the model emulated by the many other POWs that later joined him. After retirement from the Navy, he served as deputy director of the Peace Corps and deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration during the Reagan administration, before founding his own military consulting firm.

Jim Thompson was born July 8, 1933, in Bergenfield, New Jersey, as the son of a bus driver. He graduated from Bergenfield High School in 1951. [1] Thompson worked for the A&P supermarket [2] : 19 before he was drafted by the United States Army on June 14, 1956. [2] : 28 He was at first a very truculent, rebellious soldier, but then decided that he liked the military. After basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he decided to make the military his career.

After completing Officer Candidate School, [2] : 32 Thompson served stateside and also spent a year in Korea. [2] : 37 He was stationed at Fort Bragg when he was recruited into the Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. [2] : 41 After completing Ranger School and Jump School, he served as an instructor with the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, from August 1958 to June 1960. His next assignment was as a platoon leader in the 2nd Brigade of the 34th Infantry Regiment, stationed in South Korea from June 1960 to July 1961. Thompson then served as a reenlistment officer with Headquarters XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from September 1961 to September 1962, and then as a staff officer with 1st Special Forces at Fort Bragg, from September 1962 to December 1963. [3]

Vietnam War Edit

Captain Thompson went to Vietnam in December 1963. [2] : 52 Prior to his deployment, he hadn't heard of the country. He was to serve only a six-month tour of duty but was captured on March 26, 1964. He was released on March 16, 1973, ten days short of nine years.

Capture Edit

On March 26, 1964, Thompson was a passenger on an observation plane (an L-19/O-1 Bird Dog) flown by Captain Richard L. Whitesides when it was downed by enemy small arms fire at 16°39′12″N 106°46′21″E  /  16.65333°N 106.77250°E  / 16.65333 106.77250 , about 20 kilometers from Thompson's Special Forces Camp near Quang Tri, South Vietnam.

Thompson survived the crash with burns, a bullet wound across the cheek, and a broken back. He was quickly captured by the Viet Cong. Initially, Whitesides was not found he was awarded the Air Force Cross for a previous mission but was killed before it could be presented to him. He was the first American to be killed in action at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. [4] The crash site was located in 1999 by a joint American-Vietnamese team. Captain Whitesides' remains were located, recovered, and identified between August 2013 and June 2014. [5] Captain Whitesides was interred at the West Point Cemetery on May 1, 2015. [6]

Aerial search and ground patrols failed to find any trace of the aircraft. [2] : 94

On March 27, 1964, an Army officer visited Thompson's home and told his pregnant wife Alyce that he was missing. The trauma sent her into labor and their son was born that evening.

Prisoner of war Edit

Thompson spent the next nine years (3,278 days) as a prisoner of war, first at the hands of the Viet Cong in the South Vietnam jungles, until he was moved in 1967 to the Hanoi prison system. [7] During his captivity, he was tortured, starved, and isolated from other American POWs. [8] At one point, Thompson did not speak to another American for over five years. He was released with the other POWs in mid-March 1973 in Operation Homecoming.

Return to the United States Edit

The years following Thompson's release were not happy ones. His troubled life was chronicled in an oral biography called Glory Denied by Tom Philpott. Although Thompson was promoted to lieutenant colonel upon release and then to full colonel, he had missed the most important years of his military career while in prison. He had no formal military education beyond OCS and lacked even a college degree or experience as a company commander. [2] : 295

He had difficulty adjusting to a vastly changed peacetime Army. In addition, Thompson's marriage had been troubled even before his captivity, and his wife Alyce, believing him dead, was living with another man at the time he was repatriated. He and his wife divorced in 1975. Alyce told author Tom Philpott that she believed prison had affected her husband's mind. She said he suffered from nightmares and was abusive towards both her and the children. [9] Thompson later remarried but divorced soon afterwards. Thompson never formed any kind of a relationship with his children. His daughters were 6, 5 and 4 when he left, and his son was born the day of his capture. Only his eldest child barely remembered him. He eventually became completely estranged from all of them.

Thompson said that one of the things that helped him cope with his brutal imprisonment was thinking of the fine family that awaited his return. He developed a very serious drinking problem and was in several military hospitals for treatment. [2] : 349

In 1977, Thompson attempted suicide with an overdose of pills and alcohol. [2] : 430 His superiors told author Philpott that had it not been for Thompson's status as a hero, he would have been dismissed from service because of his alcoholism. In 1981, while still on active duty, Thompson suffered a massive heart attack and a severe stroke. He was in a coma for months and was left seriously disabled. He was paralyzed on one side and could speak only in brief phrases for the rest of his life.

Retirement Edit

The stroke that left Thompson's left side paralyzed [2] : 431 and his age contributed to his forced retirement from active duty in the Army. A ceremony was held for him in The Pentagon on January 28, 1982. Thompson received the Distinguished Service Medal in appreciation for his 25 years of service to his country as an Army officer. [10] Because of his recent stroke, he had a hard time speaking, so Michael Chamowitz, his close friend and lawyer, read his retirement speech.

I am honored to receive this award (the Distinguished Service Medal) today but at the same time I am saddened to be leaving active military service. The Army has been my life and I am proud of each of my twenty-five years of service.

Of those 25 years, I spent nine as prisoner of war. Those days were grim, and survival was a struggle. I was able to withstand that long agony because I never lost my determination to live—no matter how painful that became—because I love my country and never lost faith in her, and because I had dreams of what my life would be like upon my return to America. Those dreams were always, unquestionably, of a life that was Army. I found that the dream of continued service gave me a goal that helped me survive my years as a POW.

After my return from Vietnam, the opportunity to serve became the motivating force in my life. Military service has given me my greatest challenges and my greatest rewards. I have worked hard for sound leadership development in the Army and for realistic training. The greatest problem faced by POWs was fear of the unknown. This fear can be reduced, not only for the potential POW but across the awesome environment of the battlefield, by training which is honest enough to address the real issue of combat and which is tough enough to approximate battlefield conditions.

No, I do not now retire freely—there was much I still wanted to do—but circumstances present me no alternative. I leave active military service because I must. But for the rest of my life, the Army will be no less a part of me, and of what I am, than what it has always been.

Colonel Floyd James Thompson

January 29, 1982 [11]

In 1981, Thompson moved to Key West, where he remained active in the community, according to the Monroe County Office of Veterans Affairs. In 1988, Thompson and a number of other former prisoners of war were awarded medals by President Ronald Reagan.

In 1990, Thompson's son Jim was convicted of murder and imprisoned for sixteen years. [12]

On July 8, 2002, the staff of JIATF (Joint Interagency Task Force) East and some of his close friends threw Thompson a birthday party. He was described as being in high spirits and full of excitement. During the celebration, he quoted General Douglas MacArthur: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

Eight days later, on July 16, 2002, Thompson was found dead in his Key West By the Sea condominium, at the age of 69. His body was cremated, and his ashes scattered at sea off the coast of Florida. There is a memorial marker for him at Andersonville National Cemetery.

In an update to Glory Denied, Tom Philpott reported that Alyce Thompson died of cancer in 2009. He also mentioned that Thompson's daughter Ruth had suffered three disabling heart attacks and had lost a son to suicide. Philpott reported that Ruth had told him the strength of character that she inherited from both her parents had helped her though the difficult times. Glory Denied was later turned into an opera written by Tom Cipullo. [13]

In October 1974, Thompson started to receive medals and awards in recognition for his service in Vietnam. South Vietnam gave him the country's highest award to Allied enlisted military personnel for valor, the Republic of Vietnam Military Merit Medal. [14]

In recognition of his escape from Viet Cong POW camp for two days in October 1971, Thompson received the Silver Star. [2] For his nine years in captivity, Thompson received the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and Legion of Merit. The Bronze Star recognized his continuous resistance to the enemy. The Legion of Merit recognized his suffering for his nine years in captivity. [2]

A ceremony was held on June 24, 1988, in the White House honoring POWs from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Two representatives were picked from each war to receive the Prisoner of War Medal. Thompson and Everett Alvarez were chosen to represent POWs from Vietnam. [15]


During the 1920s and 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) adopted an ethos which required soldiers to fight to the death rather than surrender. [6] This policy reflected the practices of Japanese warfare in the pre-modern era. [7] During the Meiji period the Japanese government adopted western policies towards POWs, and few of the Japanese personnel who surrendered in the Russo-Japanese War were punished at the end of the war. Prisoners captured by Japanese forces during this and the First Sino-Japanese War and World War I were also treated in accordance with international standards. [8] The relatively good treatment that prisoners in Japan received was used as a propaganda tool, exuding a sense of "chivalry" in comparison to the more barbaric perception of Asia that the Meiji government wished to avoid. [9] Attitudes towards surrender hardened after World War I. While Japan signed the 1929 Geneva Convention covering treatment of POWs, it did not ratify the agreement, claiming that surrender was contrary to the beliefs of Japanese soldiers. This attitude was reinforced by the indoctrination of young people. [10]

The Japanese military's attitude towards surrender was institutionalized in the 1941 "Code of Battlefield Conduct" (Senjinkun), which was issued to all Japanese soldiers. This document sought to establish standards of behavior for Japanese troops and improve discipline and morale within the Army, and included a prohibition against being taken prisoner. [13] The Japanese Government accompanied the Senjinkun's implementation with a propaganda campaign which celebrated people who had fought to the death rather than surrender during Japan's wars. [14] While the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) did not issue a document equivalent to the Senjinkun, naval personnel were expected to exhibit similar behavior and not surrender. [15] Most Japanese military personnel were told that they would be killed or tortured by the Allies if they were taken prisoner. [16] The Army's Field Service Regulations were also modified in 1940 to replace a provision which stated that seriously wounded personnel in field hospitals came under the protection of the 1929 Geneva Convention for the Sick and Wounded Armies in the Field with a requirement that the wounded not fall into enemy hands. During the war, this led to wounded personnel being either killed by medical officers or given grenades to commit suicide. [17] Aircrew from Japanese aircraft which crashed over Allied-held territory also typically committed suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured. [18]

While scholars disagree over whether the Senjinkun was legally binding on Japanese soldiers, the document reflected Japan's societal norms and had great force over both military personnel and civilians. In 1942 the Army amended its criminal code to specify that officers who surrendered soldiers under their command faced at least six months imprisonment, regardless of the circumstances in which the surrender took place. This change attracted little attention, however, as the Senjinkun imposed more severe consequences and had greater moral force. [15]

The indoctrination of Japanese military personnel to have little respect for the act of surrendering led to conduct which Allied soldiers found deceptive. During the Pacific War, there were incidents where Japanese soldiers feigned surrender in order to lure Allied troops into ambushes. In addition, wounded Japanese soldiers sometimes tried to use hand grenades to kill Allied troops attempting to assist them. [19] Japanese attitudes towards surrender also contributed to the harsh treatment which was inflicted on the Allied personnel they captured. [20]

Not all Japanese military personnel chose to follow the precepts set out on the Senjinkun. Those who chose to surrender did so for a range of reasons including not believing that suicide was appropriate or lacking the will to commit the act, bitterness towards officers, and Allied propaganda promising good treatment. [21] During the later years of the war Japanese troops' morale deteriorated as a result of Allied victories, leading to an increase in the number who were prepared to surrender or desert. [22] During the Battle of Okinawa, 11,250 Japanese military personnel (including 3,581 unarmed labourers) surrendered between April and July 1945, representing 12 percent of the force deployed for the defense of the island. Many of these men were recently conscripted members of Boeitai home guard units who had not received the same indoctrination as regular Army personnel, but substantial numbers of IJA soldiers also surrendered. [23]

Japanese soldiers' reluctance to surrender was also influenced by a perception that Allied forces would kill them if they did surrender, and historian Niall Ferguson has argued that this had a more important influence in discouraging surrenders than the fear of disciplinary action or dishonor. [5] In addition, the Japanese public was aware that US troops sometimes mutilated Japanese casualties and sent trophies made out of body-parts home from media reports of two high-profile incidents in 1944 in which a letter-opener carved from a bone of a Japanese soldier was presented to President Roosevelt and a photo of the skull of a Japanese soldier which had been sent home by a US soldier was published in the magazine Life. In these reports Americans were portrayed as "deranged, primitive, racist and inhuman". [24] Hoyt in "Japan’s war: the great Pacific conflict" argues that the Allied practice of taking bones from Japanese corpses home as souvenirs was exploited by Japanese propaganda very effectively, and "contributed to a preference to death over surrender and occupation, shown, for example, in the mass civilian suicides on Saipan and Okinawa after the Allied landings". [24]

The causes of the phenomenon that Japanese often continued to fight even in hopeless situations has been traced to a combination of Shinto, messhi hōkō (self-sacrifice for the sake of group), and Bushido. However, a factor equally strong or even stronger to those, was the fear of torture after capture. This fear grew out of years of battle experiences in China, where the Chinese guerrillas were considered expert torturers, and this fear was projected onto the American soldiers who also were expected to torture and kill surrendered Japanese. [25] During the Pacific War the majority of Japanese military personnel did not believe that the Allies treated prisoners correctly, and even a majority of those who surrendered expected to be killed. [26]

The Western Allies sought to treat captured Japanese in accordance with international agreements which governed the treatment of POWs. [20] Shortly after the outbreak of Pacific War in December 1941, the British and United States governments transmitted a message to the Japanese government through Swiss intermediaries asking if Japan would abide by the 1929 Geneva Convention. The Japanese Government responded stating that while it had not signed the convention, Japan would treat POWs in accordance with its terms in effect though, Japan had willfully ignored the convention's requirements. While the Western Allies notified the Japanese government of the identities of Japanese POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention's requirements, this information was not passed onto the families of the captured men as the Japanese government wished to maintain that none of its soldiers had been taken prisoner. [27]

Allied combatants were reluctant to take Japanese prisoners at the start of the Pacific War. During the first two years following the US entry into the war, US combatants were generally unwilling to accept the surrender of Japanese soldiers due to a combination of racist attitudes and anger at Japan's war crimes committed against US and Allied nationals such as its widespread mistreatment or summary execution of Allied POWs. [20] [28] Australian soldiers were also reluctant to take Japanese prisoners for similar reasons. [29] Incidents in which Japanese soldiers booby-trapped their dead and wounded or pretended to surrender in order to lure Allied combatants into ambushes were well known within the Allied militaries and also hardened attitudes against seeking the surrender of Japanese on the battlefield. [30] As a result, Allied troops believed that their Japanese opponents would not surrender and that any attempts to surrender were deceptive [31] for instance, the Australian jungle warfare school advised soldiers to shoot any Japanese troops who had their hands closed while surrendering. [29] Furthermore, in many instances, Japanese soldiers who had surrendered were killed on the front line or while being taken to POW compounds. [32] The nature of jungle warfare also contributed to prisoners not being taken, as many battles were fought at close ranges where participants "often had no choice but to shoot first and ask questions later". [33]

Despite the attitudes of combat troops and nature of the fighting, Allied militaries made systematic efforts to take Japanese prisoners throughout the war. Each US Army division was assigned a team of Japanese Americans whose duties included attempting to persuade Japanese personnel to surrender. [34] Allied forces mounted an extensive psychological warfare campaign against their Japanese opponents to lower their morale and encourage surrender. [35] This included dropping copies of the Geneva Conventions and 'surrender passes' on Japanese positions. [36] This campaign was undermined by Allied troops' reluctance to take prisoners, however. [37] As a result, from May 1944, senior US Army commanders authorized and endorsed educational programs which aimed to change the attitudes of front line troops. These programs highlighted the intelligence which could be gained from Japanese POWs, the need to honor surrender leaflets, and the benefits which could be gained by encouraging Japanese forces to not fight to the last man. The programs were partially successful, and contributed to US troops taking more prisoners. In addition, soldiers who witnessed Japanese troops surrender were more willing to take prisoners themselves. [38]

Survivors of ships sunk by Allied submarines frequently refused to surrender, and many of the prisoners who were captured by submariners were taken by force. US Navy submarines were occasionally ordered to obtain prisoners for intelligence purposes, and formed special teams of personnel for this purpose. [39] Overall, however, Allied submariners usually did not attempt to take prisoners, and the number of Japanese personnel they captured was relatively small. The submarines which took prisoners normally did so towards the end of their patrols so that they did not have to be guarded for a long time. [40]

Allied forces continued to kill many Japanese personnel who were attempting to surrender throughout the war. [41] It is likely that more Japanese soldiers would have surrendered if they had not believed that they would be killed by the Allies while trying to do so. [3] Fear of being killed after surrendering was one of the main factors which influenced Japanese troops to fight to the death, and a wartime US Office of Wartime Information report stated that it may have been more important than fear of disgrace and a desire to die for Japan. [42] Instances of Japanese personnel being killed while attempting to surrender are not well documented, though anecdotal accounts provide evidence that this occurred. [28]

Estimates of the numbers of Japanese personnel taken prisoner during the Pacific War differ. [1] [28] Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata states that up to 50,000 Japanese became POWs before Japan's surrender. [43] The Japanese Government's wartime POW Information Bureau believed that 42,543 Japanese surrendered during the war [17] a figure also used by Niall Ferguson who states that it refers to prisoners taken by United States and Australian forces. [44] Ulrich Straus states that about 35,000 were captured by western Allied and Chinese forces, [45] and Robert C. Doyle gives a figure of 38,666 Japanese POWs in captivity in camps run by the western Allies at the end of the war. [46] Alison B. Gilmore has also calculated that Allied forces in the South West Pacific Area alone captured at least 19,500 Japanese. [47] a

As the Japanese forces in China were mainly on the offensive and suffered relatively few casualties, few Japanese soldiers surrendered to Chinese forces prior to August 1945. [48] It has been estimated that at the end of the war Chinese Nationalist and Communist forces held around 8,300 Japanese prisoners. The conditions these POWs were held in generally did not meet the standards required by international law. The Japanese government expressed no concern for these abuses, however, as it did not want IJA soldiers to even consider surrendering. The government was, however, concerned about reports that 300 POWs had joined the Chinese Communists and had been trained to spread anti-Japanese propaganda. [49]

The Japanese government sought to suppress information about captured personnel. On 27 December 1941, it established a POW Information Bureau within the Ministry of the Army to manage information concerning Japanese POWs. While the Bureau cataloged information provided by the Allies via the Red Cross identifying POWs, it did not pass this information on to the families of the prisoners. When individuals wrote to the Bureau to inquire if their relative had been taken prisoner, it appears that the Bureau provided a reply which neither confirmed or denied whether the man was a prisoner. Although the Bureau's role included facilitating mail between POWs and their families, this was not carried out as the families were not notified and few POWs wrote home. The lack of communication with their families increased the POWs feelings of being cut off from Japanese society. [50]

The Allies gained considerable quantities of intelligence from Japanese POWs. Because they had been indoctrinated to believe that by surrendering they had broken all ties with Japan, many captured personnel provided their interrogators with information on the Japanese military. [43] Australian and US troops and senior officers commonly believed that captured Japanese troops were very unlikely to divulge any information of military value, leading to them having little motivation to take prisoners. [52] This view proved incorrect, however, and many Japanese POWs provided valuable intelligence during interrogations. Few Japanese were aware of the Geneva Convention and the rights it gave prisoners to not respond to questioning. Moreover, the POWs felt that by surrendering they had lost all their rights. The prisoners appreciated the opportunity to converse with Japanese-speaking Americans and felt that the food, clothing and medical treatment they were provided with meant that they owed favours to their captors. The Allied interrogators found that exaggerating the amount they knew about the Japanese forces and asking the POWs to 'confirm' details was also a successful approach. As a result of these factors, Japanese POWs were often cooperative and truthful during interrogation sessions. [53]

Japanese POWs were interrogated multiple times during their captivity. Most Japanese soldiers were interrogated by intelligence officers of the battalion or regiment which had captured them for information which could be used by these units. Following this they were rapidly moved to rear areas where they were interrogated by successive echelons of the Allied military. They were also questioned once they reached a POW camp in Australia, New Zealand, India or the United States. These interrogations were painful and stressful for the POWs. [54] Similarly, Japanese sailors rescued from sunken ships by the US Navy were questioned at the Navy's interrogation centres in Brisbane, Honolulu and Noumea. [55] Allied interrogators found that Japanese soldiers were much more likely to provide useful intelligence than Imperial Japanese Navy personnel, possibly due to differences in the indoctrination provided to members of the services. [55] Force was not used in interrogations at any level, though on one occasion headquarters personnel of the US 40th Infantry Division debated, but ultimately decided against, administering sodium penthanol to a senior non-commissioned officer. [56]

Some Japanese POWs also played an important role in helping the Allied militaries develop propaganda and politically indoctrinate their fellow prisoners. [57] This included developing propaganda leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts which were designed to encourage other Japanese personnel to surrender. The wording of this material sought to overcome the indoctrination which Japanese soldiers had received by stating that they should "cease resistance" rather than "surrender". [58] POWs also provided advice on the wording for propaganda leaflets which were dropped on Japanese cities by heavy bombers in the final months of the war. [59]

Japanese POWs held in Allied prisoner of war camps were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. [60] By 1943 the Allied governments were aware that personnel who had been captured by the Japanese military were being held in harsh conditions. In an attempt to win better treatment for their POWs, the Allies made extensive efforts to notify the Japanese government of the good conditions in Allied POW camps. [61] This was not successful, however, as the Japanese government refused to recognise the existence of captured Japanese military personnel. [62] Nevertheless, Japanese POWs in Allied camps continued to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions until the end of the war. [63]

Most Japanese captured by US forces after September 1942 were turned over to Australia or New Zealand for internment. The United States provided these countries with aid through the Lend Lease program to cover the costs of maintaining the prisoners, and retained responsibility for repatriating the men to Japan at the end of the war. Prisoners captured in the central Pacific or who were believed to have particular intelligence value were held in camps in the United States. [64]

Prisoners who were thought to possess significant technical or strategic information were brought to specialist intelligence-gathering facilities at Fort Hunt, Virginia or Camp Tracy, California. After arriving in these camps, the prisoners were interrogated again, and their conversations were wiretapped and analysed. Some of the conditions at Camp Tracy violated Geneva Convention requirements, such as insufficient exercise time being provided. However, prisoners at this camp were given special benefits, such as high quality food and access to a shop, and the interrogation sessions were relatively relaxed. The continuous wiretapping at both locations may have also violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention. [66]

Japanese POWs generally adjusted to life in prison camps and few attempted to escape. [67] There were several incidents at POW camps, however. On 25 February 1943, POWs at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand staged a strike after being ordered to work. The protest turned violent when the camp's deputy commander shot one of the protest's leaders. The POWs then attacked the other guards, who opened fire and killed 48 prisoners and wounded another 74. Conditions at the camp were subsequently improved, leading to good relations between the Japanese and their New Zealand guards for the remainder of the war. [68] More seriously, on 5 August 1944, Japanese POWs in a camp near Cowra, Australia attempted to escape. During the fighting between the POWs and their guards 257 Japanese and four Australians were killed. [69] Other confrontations between Japanese POWs and their guards occurred at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin during May 1944 as well as a camp in Bikaner, India during 1945 these did not result in any fatalities. [70] In addition, 24 Japanese POWs killed themselves at Camp Paita, New Caledonia in January 1944 after a planned uprising was foiled. [71] News of the incidents at Cowra and Featherston was suppressed in Japan, [72] but the Japanese Government lodged protests with the Australian and New Zealand governments as a propaganda tactic. This was the only time that the Japanese Government officially recognized that some members of the country's military had surrendered. [73]

The Allies distributed photographs of Japanese POWs in camps to induce other Japanese personnel to surrender. This tactic was initially rejected by General MacArthur when it was proposed to him in mid-1943 on the grounds that it violated the Hague and Geneva Conventions, and the fear of being identified after surrendering could harden Japanese resistance. MacArthur reversed his position in December of that year, however, but only allowed the publication of photos that did not identify individual POWs. He also directed that the photos "should be truthful and factual and not designed to exaggerate". [74]

Millions of Japanese military personnel surrendered following the end of the war. Soviet and Chinese forces accepted the surrender of 1.6 million Japanese and the western allies took the surrender of millions more in Japan, South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. [75] In order to prevent resistance to the order to surrender, Japan's Imperial Headquarters included a statement that "servicemen who come under the control of enemy forces after the proclamation of the Imperial Rescript will not be regarded as POWs" in its orders announcing the end of the war. While this measure was successful in avoiding unrest, it led to hostility between those who surrendered before and after the end of the war and denied prisoners of the Soviets POW status. In most instances the troops who surrendered were not taken into captivity, and were repatriated to the Japanese home islands after giving up their weapons. [43]

Repatriation of some Japanese POWs was delayed by Allied authorities. Until late 1946, the United States retained almost 70,000 POWs to dismantle military facilities in the Philippines, Okinawa, central Pacific, and Hawaii. British authorities retained 113,500 of the approximately 750,000 POWs in south and south-east Asia until 1947 the last POWs captured in Burma and Malaya returned to Japan in October 1947. [76] The British also used armed Japanese Surrendered Personnel to support Dutch and French attempts to reassert control in the Dutch East Indies and Indochina respectively. [77] At least 81,090 Japanese personnel died in areas occupied by the western Allies and China before they could be repatriated to Japan. Historian John W. Dower has attributed these deaths to the "wretched" condition of Japanese military units at the end of the war. [78] [79]

Nationalist Chinese forces took the surrender of 1.2 million Japanese military personnel following the war. While the Japanese feared that they would be subjected to reprisals, they were generally treated well. This was because the Nationalists wished to seize as many weapons as possible, ensure that the departure of the Japanese military didn't create a security vacuum and discourage Japanese personnel from fighting alongside the Chinese communists. [80] Over the next few months, most Japanese prisoners in China, along with Japanese civilian settlers, were returned to Japan. The nationalists retained over 50,000 POWs, most of whom had technical skills, until the second half of 1946, however. Tens of thousands of Japanese prisoners captured by Chinese communists were serving in their military forces in August 1946 and more than 60,000 were believed to still be held in Communist-controlled areas as late as April 1949. [76] Hundreds of Japanese POWs were killed fighting for the People's Liberation Army during the Chinese Civil War. Following the war, the victorious Chinese Communist government began repatriating Japanese prisoners home, though some were put on trial for war crimes and had to serve prison sentences of varying length before being allowed to return. The last Japanese prisoner returned from China in 1964. [81] [82]

Hundreds of thousands of Japanese also surrendered to Soviet forces in the last weeks of the war and after Japan's surrender. The Soviet Union claimed to have taken 594,000 Japanese POWs, of whom 70,880 were immediately released, but Japanese researchers have estimated that 850,000 were captured. [28] Unlike the prisoners held by China or the western Allies, these men were treated harshly by their captors, and over 60,000 died. Japanese POWs were forced to undertake hard labour and were held in primitive conditions with inadequate food and medical treatments. This treatment was similar to that experienced by German POWs in the Soviet Union. [83] The treatment of Japanese POWs in Siberia was also similar to that suffered by Soviet prisoners who were being held in the area. [84] Between 1946 and 1950, many of the Japanese POWs in Soviet captivity were released those remaining after 1950 were mainly those convicted of various crimes. They were gradually released under a series of amnesties between 1953 and 1956. After the last major repatriation in 1956, the Soviets continued to hold some POWs and release them in small increments. Some ended up spending decades living in the Soviet Union, and could only return to Japan in the 1990s. Some, having spent decades away and having started families of their own, elected not to permanently settle in Japan and remain where they were. [2] [85]

Due to the shame associated with surrendering, few Japanese POWs wrote memoirs after the war. [28]

^a Gilmore provides the following numbers of Japanese POWs taken in the SWPA during each year of the war 1942: 1,167, 1943: 1,064, 1944: 5,122, 1945: 12,194 [47]


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This Day in History: Jan 26, 1788: Australia Day

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.

Australia, once known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a penal colony. In October 1786, the British government appointed Arthur Phillip captain of the HMS Sirius, and commissioned him to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts. With little idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land, Phillip had great difficulty assembling the fleet that was to make the journey. His requests for more experienced farmers to assist the penal colony were repeatedly denied, and he was both poorly funded and outfitted. Nonetheless, accompanied by a small contingent of Marines and other officers, Phillip led his 1,000-strong party, of whom more than 700 were convicts, around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, claiming the deaths of some 30 men.

The first years of settlement were nearly disastrous. Cursed with poor soil, an unfamiliar climate and workers who were ignorant of farming, Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive. The colony was on the verge of outright starvation for several years, and the marines sent to keep order were not up to the task. Phillip, who proved to be a tough but fair-minded leader, persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility and oversight. Floggings and hangings were commonplace, but so was egalitarianism. As Phillip said before leaving England: "In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves."

Though Phillip returned to England in 1792, the colony became prosperous by the turn of the 19th century. Feeling a new sense of patriotism, the men began to rally around January 26 as their founding day. Historian Manning Clarke noted that in 1808 the men observed the "anniversary of the foundation of the colony" with "drinking and merriment."

Finally, in 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia. And, as Australia became a sovereign nation, it became the national holiday known as Australia Day. Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.

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WW2 POW Survival Rates

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I hope this isn't a taboo topic on this forum. I THINK that it's not. Obviously we should steer away from some of the more unpleasant things that happened in WW2 to those that surrendered, because this is not the forum for those discussions, nor is that the topic I hope to focus on. So. with that out of the way.

I was chatting w/ Dad earlier today about various POW-related things. I had recently come across a chart that detailed the survival rates of POWs by nation of the soldier as well as nation holding those soldiers.

Thusly. the "Russians held by Germans" was a separate category than "Americans held by Germans". and the Russians had a notably lower survival rate than the Americans.

I spent a good half hour looking for those numbers again today and couldn't, for the life of me, find them. Does anyone have that info handy perchance?

If I recall correctly, the highest survival rates were for Germans who made it to POW camps in North America. The lowest was for Chinese captured by the Japanese (in fact, the chart I saw simply had a total number for Chinese POWs who survived, and it was depressingly low).


Field Marshal

This the kind of thing? I grabbed it with a quick google, some further investigation would suggest Niall Ferguson, 'Prisoner Taking and Prisoner Killing in the Age of Total War: Towards a Political Economy of Military Defeat', War in History (2004) as the source.

A word of caution however. Prisoner death rates only include the death of POWs, not all those who surrender. In reality the rate would be higher due to unrecorded killings, and particularly due to casualties as the result of surrender (i.e, one side tries to surrender and the other side doesn't realise).

"Petrarch was right" - Petrarch||||"Petrarch is actually right" - LYNCHY||||"Petrarch was banned" - Robotic Maniac

"Tiger powder-induced eastern shenanigans" - Finnish Lord||||"I really enjoyed the Gulag" - Blade!||||"So sexy" - Franconian on violent insanity||||"The soft-pr0n . I like it for the atmosphere it creates and the sheer spectacle of the thing" - Tufto||||"Swans are as dangerous as wolves. Got it." - Some fat racist German bloke in cheekless leiderhosen panties||||"I pooped myself. And then I did it again." - Yakman||||"Glory to the Confederate clan!" - Robotic Maniac

"I have hot cousins"||||"I once jokingly *CENSORED FOR FORUM* all my friends in the PE changing room"||||"I would lick GAZPROM drilled oil off of his shiny nipples" - Shynka, on incest, sport, and Vladimir Putin

<Doom> Sent Shynka some pics of my ass.||||<mathrim-afk> Looks great​


Field Marshal


Field Marshal

In Canada, we had exactly 137 POWS dying between 1939 and 1945 out of 35 000, including two Germans killed because not enough Nazis by fellow prisoners and five of the said fellow prisonners hanged.

Considering that the areas were the prisonners were held (in the middle of the Prairies) are arguably as cold as European Russian, if not colder.



DoomBunny, that looks like the exact chart I was thinking of! Thank you so much!

And yeah, the stats were for those who made it to the actual camps. The discussion I had with my dad was after we watched Fury and were discussing Americans shooting prisoners. Mostly SS soldiers after Malmedy and then some incidences on Okinawa (due to the porous, chaotic nature of the fighting).

I'm curious how many Germans were captured by "Eastern Europeans" and just who those nations were. To my understanding. even though Hungary lasted to nearly the very end. the fighting that did occur between Germans and Hungarians was incredibly intense. Don't know much about that though. Also, does "Eastern Europeans" include Yugoslavian partisans? That might explain quite a bit about these numbers.


Field Marshal

"Petrarch was right" - Petrarch||||"Petrarch is actually right" - LYNCHY||||"Petrarch was banned" - Robotic Maniac

"Tiger powder-induced eastern shenanigans" - Finnish Lord||||"I really enjoyed the Gulag" - Blade!||||"So sexy" - Franconian on violent insanity||||"The soft-pr0n . I like it for the atmosphere it creates and the sheer spectacle of the thing" - Tufto||||"Swans are as dangerous as wolves. Got it." - Some fat racist German bloke in cheekless leiderhosen panties||||"I pooped myself. And then I did it again." - Yakman||||"Glory to the Confederate clan!" - Robotic Maniac

"I have hot cousins"||||"I once jokingly *CENSORED FOR FORUM* all my friends in the PE changing room"||||"I would lick GAZPROM drilled oil off of his shiny nipples" - Shynka, on incest, sport, and Vladimir Putin

<Doom> Sent Shynka some pics of my ass.||||<mathrim-afk> Looks great​


Field Marshal


Field Marshal

I don't have the book the table is supposedly from, so I can't really comment. My opinion of Ferguson in general isn't particularly high though.

Do you have another source for the 10% claim?

"Petrarch was right" - Petrarch||||"Petrarch is actually right" - LYNCHY||||"Petrarch was banned" - Robotic Maniac

"Tiger powder-induced eastern shenanigans" - Finnish Lord||||"I really enjoyed the Gulag" - Blade!||||"So sexy" - Franconian on violent insanity||||"The soft-pr0n . I like it for the atmosphere it creates and the sheer spectacle of the thing" - Tufto||||"Swans are as dangerous as wolves. Got it." - Some fat racist German bloke in cheekless leiderhosen panties||||"I pooped myself. And then I did it again." - Yakman||||"Glory to the Confederate clan!" - Robotic Maniac

"I have hot cousins"||||"I once jokingly *CENSORED FOR FORUM* all my friends in the PE changing room"||||"I would lick GAZPROM drilled oil off of his shiny nipples" - Shynka, on incest, sport, and Vladimir Putin

<Doom> Sent Shynka some pics of my ass.||||<mathrim-afk> Looks great​


Ça plane pour moi

We ended up discussing this recently in a thread about the legality of the attack on Pearl Harbour (of course). The figures are difficult to authenticate, but at first glance I'd have to quibble with the figure given above for German POWs held by Russians. Soviet figures indicate 86% of POWs eventually released and it seems clear to me that German estimates include large numbers of men who were simply MIA and never recorded as POWs.
All stats should be viewed sceptically, whatever their source - but for what its worth .


Minister of Peace for Europe

Germans were evacuated from Finnish-controlled southern Finland before Finland changed sides attacking Germany. Meanwhile Germans in Lapland mostly were allowed to retreat to Norway without actively pursuing them. So the amount of Germans captured by Finns would have been minimal. But knowing the level of nutrition and sanitation in a country that just lost a war, casualty rate for those few could have been that bad.

I remember around 20% of Soviet POWs in Finland died. Could have actually been more than that. And as they were sworn enemies there was even conscious policy to keep Soviet POW camps last in line for getting supplies. Casualty rates for those POWs who were assigned to labour duty outside the camps, especially to the farms, were much lower.

Pity comes for free, but jealousy must be earned - Lauri Tähkä

Hearts of Iron II beta AAR Guardian of Democracy

Henry IX

Lt. General

The other thing to keep in mind is the condition of prisoners when they are taken. A significant number of them will be injured and even with the best will they could die. In the same way, those luck POWs sent to Canada were likely all reasonably healthy - any badly injured prisoners would most likely by held in Europe.

The condition of the POWs is one of the reasons why the Stalingrad survivors had such a high death rate. If you enter the Soviet system in poor health your chance of survival is very, very poor. It is noteworthy that higher raking individuals had much higher survival rates than privates, even NCOs had about half the death rate. This may be due to them being in better condition when they entered the Soviet camps.

While culture can not make the economically impossible possible, it can make the economically pointless common. Keynes2.0

The Super Pope

Dance Commander

I've been spending too much time at r/ShitWehraboosSay



I must say, I find it surprising that almost two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the opening of many archives to historians, many popular academics still use statistics taken from god knows where and god knows when.

It's easy enough to go to the Wikipedia page on the matter and look at the figures from the Russian State Military Archives, which has some rather detailed NKVD statistics on the death rates of Wehrmacht soldiers who died in captivity:

Total accounted prisoners of war: 2,733,739 released and repatriated: 2,352,671 died in captivity: 381,067 (13.9%).

The Russian-language Wiki page features more complete data, including details on the other Axis members' death in captivity rates:

Hungarians: 513,766 POWs - 54,755 died in captivity Romanians: 187,367 - 54,612 Italians: 48,957 - 27,683 Finns: 2,377 - 403. Total Axis Allies: 752,467 - 137,753 (18.3% died in captivity).

Adding them up, total Wehrmacht and Axis allied POWs: 3,486,206 died in captivity: 518,520 (14.9%).

All in all, the rates are still very high, especially compared to the rates for the Western Allies, but they do go against the narratives painted by people like Mr. Ferguson. Prior to the Soviet collapse, the NKVD archives were closed they were internal archives, based on mundane bureaucratic calculations (i.e. how many prisoners are where, what resources are needed to feed and house them, what manpower is there for use as forced labor, etc.). In other words, they had little reason to lie. Where then does the discrepancy come from?


Field Marshal

"Petrarch was right" - Petrarch||||"Petrarch is actually right" - LYNCHY||||"Petrarch was banned" - Robotic Maniac

"Tiger powder-induced eastern shenanigans" - Finnish Lord||||"I really enjoyed the Gulag" - Blade!||||"So sexy" - Franconian on violent insanity||||"The soft-pr0n . I like it for the atmosphere it creates and the sheer spectacle of the thing" - Tufto||||"Swans are as dangerous as wolves. Got it." - Some fat racist German bloke in cheekless leiderhosen panties||||"I pooped myself. And then I did it again." - Yakman||||"Glory to the Confederate clan!" - Robotic Maniac

"I have hot cousins"||||"I once jokingly *CENSORED FOR FORUM* all my friends in the PE changing room"||||"I would lick GAZPROM drilled oil off of his shiny nipples" - Shynka, on incest, sport, and Vladimir Putin

<Doom> Sent Shynka some pics of my ass.||||<mathrim-afk> Looks great​


Resident WW Foreigner

Some got home in the 40s some even in 45.

I know this is just a single example, but I thought it might be relevant/interesting anyway. My grandfather's sister married a half Dane half German before the war. He was drafted and ended up getting captured on the East Front in 44. Due to being an electrical engineer he was put to work with the electric (or something like that) while working in a high voltage mast he was electrocuted and fell down to the ground and broke his back. Due to then being useless he was sent home in September 45.
He wrote down the deathtoll for the home transport and they are obscene.
They started out 1313 somewhere in Russia before they left the station 30 had already died. When they arrived at the destination, which was Frankfurt, 305 had died---or 23% of the people on the home transport. And he writes that it actually could have been more. At every station where they stopped they left at least several bodies.


The first group of POWs leaving the prison camps in North Vietnam left Hanoi on a U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-141 Starlifter strategic airlift aircraft nicknamed the Hanoi Taxi, which flew them to Clark Air Base in the Philippines for medical examinations. On March 17, the plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. Even though there were only 20 POWs of that first increment released aboard the plane, almost 400 family members turned up for the homecoming. [3]

Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Stirm, USAF, made a speech [4] "on behalf of himself and other POWs who had arrived from Vietnam as part of Operation Homecoming." [5]

Smithsonian Magazine says that "Veder, who'd been standing in a crowded bullpen with dozens of other journalists, noticed the sprinting family and started taking pictures. 'You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air'." [5] [4]

Developing the latent images Edit

Veder then rushed to the makeshift photo developing station (for 35 mm film) in the ladies' room of the air base's flightline washrooms, while the photographers from United Press International were in the men's. [4] Smithsonian Magazine says that "In less than half an hour, Veder and his AP colleague Walt Zeboski had developed six remarkable images of that singular moment. Veder's pick, which he instantly titled Burst of Joy, was sent out over the news-service wires". [5]

The photograph depicts United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Stirm being reunited with his family, after spending more than five years in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Stirm was shot down over Hanoi on October 27, 1967, while leading a flight of F-105s on a bombing mission, and was not released until March 14, 1973. The centerpiece of the photograph is Stirm's 15-year-old daughter Lorrie, who is excitedly greeting her father with outstretched arms, as the rest of the family approaches directly behind her. [5]

Despite outward appearances, the reunion was an unhappy one for Stirm. Three days before he arrived in the United States, the same day he was released from captivity, Stirm received a Dear John letter from his wife Loretta informing him that their marriage was over. Stirm later learned that Loretta had been with other men throughout his captivity, receiving marriage proposals from three of them. In 1974, the Stirms divorced and Loretta remarried, but Lieutenant Colonel Stirm was still ordered by the courts to provide her with 43% of his military retirement pay once he retired from the Air Force. [6] Stirm was later promoted to full Colonel and retired from the Air Force in 1977. [7]

After Burst of Joy was announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, all of the family members depicted in the picture received copies. The depicted children display it prominently in their homes, but not Colonel Stirm, who says he cannot bring himself to display the picture. [5]

Loretta died on August 13, 2010 from cancer. [8]

About the picture and its legacy, Lorrie Stirm Kitching once noted, "We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment, but every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren't reunited, and the ones that aren't being reunited today — many, many families — and I think, I'm one of the lucky ones." [5]

Donald Goldstein, a retired Air Force colonel and a co-author of a prominent Vietnam War photojournalism book, The Vietnam War: The Stories and The Photographs, says of Burst of Joy, "After years of fighting a war we couldn't win, a war that tore us apart, it was finally over, and the country could start healing." [5]

This POW earned the Medal of Honor for saving his entire unit

On Apr. 24, 1951, Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura — known as “Hershey” to his men — and his squad of a dozen machine gunners and five riflemen were stationed on a Korean hill to delay the Chinese attack everyone knew was coming. The hillside was pocked with trenches and craters and littered with razor wire. At 4 in the morning, the quiet was broken by the sound of bugles and whistles as waves of Chinese regulars swarmed across the Imjin River. One of those waves breaking against Miyamura’s position.

Suddenly, he was in charge of a suicide mission.

Born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico, the son of Japanese immigrants, Miyamura served in World War II with the famed 442 nd Regimental Combat Team, a Japanese-American unit that became the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of America, but did not see action. He joined up again when the Korean Conflict broke out in 1950 and was trained in heavy weapons and sent to Korea.

For hours that morning, the Chinese waves beat against Miyamura’s position. Their overwhelming numbers came straight at Miyamura as his machine guns slowly eliminated the enemy squad, one man at a time. As their ammunition dwindled, Miyamura, who was directing fire, firing his carbine, and hurling grenades at the attackers, ordered his squad to fix bayonets.

At one point, the Chinese began attempting to flank the remnants of the small unit, so Miyamura attacked — by himself.

“Chinese soldiers had been cautiously moving up the slope when Miyamura suddenly appeared in their midst,” Brig. Gen. Ralph Osborne, would later announce. “Jabbing and slashing, he scattered one group and wheeled around, breaking up another group the same way.”

An artist rendering of Hiroshi Miyamura in the Korean War.

He then returned to his squad and began tending to the wounded, but he soon realized his position was hopeless. He ordered a withdrawal.

As the men readied to pull out, another wave of Chinese struck and Miyamura moved to an untended machine gun and fired it until he was out of ammunition. He disabled the machine gun to keep out of enemy hands and was about to join the withdrawal when the Chinese again hit his position. He bayoneted his way to a second, untended machine gun and used it to cover his men’s withdrawal until he was forced to take shelter in a bunker and kept fighting. The area in front of the bunker was later discovered to be littered with the bodies of at least 50 of the enemy combatants.

When the fighting hit a lull, Hershey found himself alone.

Now wounded in the leg by grenade shrapnel, he began to work his way back from the front at times meeting — and besting — Chinese troops in hand-to-hand combat until, exhausted and weakened, he fell into a roadside ditch and was captured.

A machine gun position like the ones Hiroshi Miyamura used.

For the next 28 months, he struggled to survive in a North Korean POW camp, believing his entire squad had been killed or wounded. He also naively feared he would face a court-marshal for having lost so many of his men. (In fact, several of the squad had survived). So, when he was finally released at the end of the fighting he weighed less than 100 pounds and faced freedom with some trepidation.

Instead, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The award had been kept secret for fear of enemy retaliation, so few ever knew of Hershey’s actions on that lonely Korean hill. So it was with some surprise that Miyamura was informed by Gen. Osborne of his MOH.

“What?” he is reported to have said. ‘I’ve been awarded what medal?’

Hiroshi Miyamura receives the Medal of Honor from President Eisenhower.

On Oct. 27, 1953, then-Sergeant Miyamura — he had been promoted while in captivity — received his award from President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House and returned to Gallup where the city’s schools were let out, businesses had been closed, and some 5,000 people greeted him as he got off the train.

3 “No-duh!” things you can do to manage hunger that actually work

Posted On July 09, 2020 19:08:02

I’m about to tell you how to manage your hunger pangs. These tactics are useless unless you understand one fact about life and your body.

A hunger pang will not kill you and isn’t actually negative at all.

By chiseling this fact on your stomach you can start to reframe the feeling of being hungry. Historically, hunger signals have been a sign to start looking for food or starvation was coming.

Today we have the opposite problem of our prehistoric ancestors. There is too much food! ⅓ of all food is actually lost or wasted!

This is why it’s so easy to get fat! This being the case, we need to reorient our relationship with hunger cues by recognizing that they are leftover from a time when food was scarce.

Chances are higher that you die from eating too much rather than too little.

That being the case let’s get into 3 things that can help you control your relationship with hunger. After all, if we just give in to every urge, our bodies have we are no better than those sex-crazed bonobos.

Nothing wrong with meat. It’s the sauces and glazes that cause people to overeat.

Choose high-satiety foods

These are foods that actually make you feel full. A great rule of thumb is to stick to foods on the outside edge of the grocery store like veggies, fruits, meat, and less processed dairy products. The closer you get to the middle of the store, the more processed things tend to get.

The more processed something is the less it tends to make us feel full. You can think of processing as the same as pre-digesting in many cases. These foods are designed to make you want to keep eating more of them by not spending a lot of time in your digestive tract.

High-satiety foods like potatoes, lean meats, and whole fruits and veggies tend to make themselves at home in your tummy for much longer. This means that 250 calories of steak or baked potato feel like more food to your body than 250 calories of a hostess product or chips shaped like triangles.

Rule of thumb: Eat mostly high-protein (lean meat) and high-fiber (whole fruits and veggies) foods. Limit intake of high-sugar, fat, salt (the stuff in packages in the middle of the store).

Only buy single serving sizes and keep them out of the house.

Be wary of what you let in the house

You can’t control the world around you, but you can control your space. In order to make full use of this keep foods that trigger you to eat a lot out of the house plain and simple. Don’t buy them with the intention of bringing them home.

Many people get the munchies late at night when most stores are closed, or they are already in their pajamas. Chances of you going out at this time for some shitty junk food is slim. You’ll have to make do with what’s in the house.

This means you can binge on healthy high-satiety foods, like mentioned above. Or you can forego the binge all together.

A tall glass of water is actually all it usually takes to quell the hunger rumbles sometimes. Next time you think you’re hungry simply have some water and wait 20 minutes. If you’re still hungry go for the food. If not, go on with your life and stop thinking about food.

Best practices: Make your living space one that cultivates good habits, only keep foods, snacks, and drinks that reflect the person you want to be.

Choose the least tempting way home.

Drive somewhere else

Our brains play a very active role in how we perceive hunger. You might not be hungry at all but all of a sudden you walk by that great smelling burger joint or see that add for a fresh donut. Boom! Your mouth is watering, and your stomach feels like it’s trying to crawl out of your body like that scene in Alien.

Simple solution: Change your route so that you don’t pass that establishment or ad. There’s always another way home even if it’s further, do what you need to in order to win.

You can control the plane but not the weather. Accept it and move on.

The world isn’t going to change for you

By controlling what you can and accepting that which you can’t control, you can start to take control of your hunger pangs.

  • Choose high-satiety foods first, if you still have room after then have the low satiety foods.
  • Control what you allow in your home. You are the keeper of your space, take that position seriously.
  • Change your route. A true hard target never takes the same route twice anyway. Make yourself more survivable and less likely to give into cravings by changing your path.

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An Airman’s Story: My time as a POW

George Latella volunteers twice a week at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center. During his time in the Air Force, he received various medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. (Mercy López-Acosta/NUCLEUS)

George Latella is a man of a few words, but his history speaks volumes. His life now consists of sitting in a comfortable chair, while volunteering his time at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center – a far cry from what he endured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he slept on wooden pallets.

Thursday marked 45 years since the now silver-haired man was released from his captors. Looking at him, you would never know that he endured six months of living in captivity, although the images still plague him.

He talks about his ordeal freely and remembers tidbits of the six months of anguish he endured at the age of 25.

During those six months as a POW, Latella, who at the time was a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, was held in a small room with nothing but a wooden pallet to sleep on. He ate two meals a day of what he describes as not being very appetizing.

“The light above on the ceiling was always on,” Latella said.

Latella, left, along with Brig. Gen. Robbie Risner, sitting, and Col. James H. Kosler, right, were the first prisoners of war to sit in a chair reserved for POWs on Aug. 21, 1974, at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

Enemy forces captured him on Oct. 6, 1972, after the F-4 Phantom he was a co-piloting with Lt. Col. Robert Anderson was struck by enemy fire. The aircraft sustained heavy damage, and Latella was forced to jump and deploy his parachute.

“I was captured within five minutes of hitting the ground,” he said. “I was then taken to a POW camp in Hanoi.”

Latella did receive a bit of medical treatment for some injuries he suffered, including a broken right arm. At the POW camp, he stayed in solitary confinement for six weeks before captured Airman Fred McMurray joined him.

“The first few days in captivity were a big shock. One day you have control of your life, and later that same day you are subjected to total control of another person,” Latella said. “That other person was part of the ones you were fighting against.”

For more than five months, Latella and McMurray would talk about life back home and their time in the service.

The two often wondered if they would ever return home, to the country they proudly served.

Latella used his faith in the government and his fellow service members to help him through the horrendous ordeal, despite getting books from the enemy on how terribly they viewed the U.S. He thought about his family back home, his mom, one brother and two sisters in New York.

And he wondered and worried about what happened to Anderson, if he were still alive and if he were also a prisoner of war.

Latella never thought that he would go home lifeless, like the 58,000 other service members who didn’t make it back alive from Vietnam. He and McMurray were confined to the small room for weeks on end. They rarely saw outside the four walls. They went through the days by talking to each other.

Their only meals were bland, and Latella said that he dropped 15 pounds within those six months.

Then-U.S. Air Force Lt. George Latella poses in front of an F-4 Phantom in Vietnam in 1972. On Oct. 6, 1972, the F-4 he was co-piloting was hit by enemy fire, and he was forced to jump from the aircraft. He was captured by enemy forces and spent six months as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

“This was the most difficult part of my life,” Latella said. “But I knew that somehow I was going to go back home. I relied on my faith in the military.”

In December 1972, the Eleven Days of Christmas Battle, during which U.S. forces launched a missile campaign over North Vietnam, brought hope for Latella. But he had doubts, since he thought that the war had just gotten worse and that Vietnam forces would fight back.

But, to his surprise, weeks after the December missile campaign, the Paris Peace Accord was signed – ending the war in Vietnam.

Latella did not believe he would be released. Weeks passed, and, on March 29, 1973, Latella and McMurray were released to U.S. military officials.

“I was part of the last group of POWs in Hanoi,” he said.

But the sense of freedom did not hit Latella immediately. He still had his doubts.

“It was not until the plane got off the ground that I knew I was going home,” he said.

Latella flew into the Philippines to Clark Air Base, where additional U.S. military officials welcomed him, along with the other POWs.

“When I arrived at Clark, I was overwhelmed at the reception there to meet us. I had finally returned to the good old USA on April 1, 1973. It was an experience I will never forget,” he said.

After returning to the U.S., Latella went back home to New York, where he received additional medical treatment and spent time with his mom and family members.

“It was very heart-warming when I finally saw my family,” he said.

Eventually, Latella was given orders to Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis. He stayed there for a few years. While at Cannon, he met his future wife, Susan. And, on March 29, 1979, six years to the day after he was released in Vietnam, the two welcomed their first-born daughter.

“March 29 is a day of celebration for us, one for my release and another for the birth of my daughter,” he said.

Latella retired from the Air Force in 1990 as a major. He resides in Albuquerque, and volunteers twice a week at the local VA hospital. He spends time with former Vietnam POWs.

Latella said he also finally got the answer to what happened to Anderson. Years later, his remains were found near the downed aircraft.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.


One story out of the Vietnam War was related by Sen. John McCain. A fellow POW, Mike Christian, sewed a flag on the inside of his shirt. Daily, he and his fellow captives would hang the shirt on the wall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The “Hanoi Hilton” POW Camp – 1970 aerial photo.

One day, a North Vietnamese guard discovered the flag. Christian was severely beaten for several hours. That evening, however, Christian began making another flag, even before the injuries caused by the beating had begun to heal.

Soldiers around the world place immense importance on their unit and national flags. They become, in many ways, part of their identity. Civil War regiments fought to defend their regimental flags, and the American flags they carried also were a source of pride and courage.

Recently liberated American prisoners of war at Aomori camp near Yokohama, Japan, circa 29 August 1945.

A POW may only be able to visualize the flag in his mind’s eye. A brave and clever few can make or hide a flag for the comfort and support of their comrades. Its presence alone is a violation of the rules and can bring with it severe punishment or death, but that risk pales in the face of the strength and determination the flag brings in captivity.