This former POW has some interesting things to say about the impact of anti-war activists, and the impact of media coverage (highlighting below is mine).
And the next time you here our troops trashed over Gitmo, remember this story. Somehow, I don't think Gitmo rises to the level of this one. This is what torture is.
Story courtesy of the POW Bio page of SCOPES Systems
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
EDWARD H. MARTIN
Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: July 9, 1967
Commander Edward H. Martin was born in Savannah, Georgia on 30 September 1931 where he attended the public school system and Armstrong College as well as the University of Georgia Off-Campus Division there. In 1950 he was appointed to and entered the U.S. Naval Academy from which he graduated in 1954. Immediately following graduation from Annapolis, he entered flight training in Pensacola, Florida and later, Kingsville, Texas. From the fall of 1955 until 1959 he served in various carrier based squadrons operating out of San Diego, California.
From 1959 until 1962 Cdr. Martin was an instructor in the light jet Attack Replacement Squadron, first at Miramar, then Lemoore Naval Air Station in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Subsequent to this he served a tour on the staff of Commander Carrier Division Seven. In July 1964 he reported to Newport, Rhode Island to attend the U. S. Naval War College. He also holds a Master's Degree in International Affairs.
In July 1965, he reported to Attack Squadron Thirty-Four (34), homeported in Jacksonville, Florida where he served as Operations Officer and Executive Officer. While leading a flight of A4 Skyhawks from the carrier Intrepid on 9 July 1967, Cdr. Martin encountered numerous surface-to-air missiles near his target just southeast of Hanoi. His aircraft was hit and burst into flames. Ed Martin ejected safely and was captured immediately upon landing. During his captivity, both his shoulders were broken during rope torture. He was confined in both leg and wrist irons, and spent alot of time in solitary confinement. He was also subjected to beatings.
For the next five years and eight months he was held captive in the immediate Hanoi area from which he was repatriated on 4 March 1973.
Cdr. Martin attributes the success of the vast majority of prisoners of war in resisting the efforts of their captors during the long ordeal to faith in God, faith in their country and its government, faith in family and faith in their fellow prisoners; also to a well organized and strong leadership while in prison. "Never were these faiths shaken," he said.
He believes that the anti-war activists were injurious to the United States and the cause of freedom, and that they prolonged the war and the prisoners time in captivity. Following his return to the United States he was quoted as saying, "It's wonderful now to see a resurgence of Americanism and patriotism in our beloved country and I only hope that we, the returning prisoners of war, can enhance this awakening."
Edward Holmes Martin and his lovely wife, Sherry, lived in Coronado, California with their three children, Michelle, 13, Beau, 12, and Peter, 9 after Homecoming. "I am so very proud of the strength, courage and faith of my wife during this ordeal. The burden of being a mother, a father and running a household was on her shoulders and she did so well," he said.
Edward Martin retired from the United States Navy as a Vice Admiral in 1989. While in the Navy, he had served as Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; U.S. Commander Eastern Atlantic; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Airwarfare); and Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. He is now retired. He is president of an International Business Advisory Firm, and sits on a number of corporate and charity boards. He and his wife Sherry
now reside in California.
More of Edward Martins' story can be found on pages 271, 272, 273, and 281 of Benjamin Schemmer's "THE RAID" by Avon. It states:
One of the Hanoi Hilton's last new guests as the Son Tay roundup continued was Navy Commander Edward R. Martin. Shot down on July 9, 1967, while leading a strike against Ninh Binh, he spent the first year of his incarceration in solitary. After months of that he was near death. He lived on one thought: "Six months from now, I'm going 'home." Every six months, he'd convince himself anew. it was his way of holding onto sanity while they worked him over in the Zoo, finally throwing him into a cell 78 inches long and 60 inches wide with four other men, sleeping on concrete, two of his cellmates in irons, unable to urinate, never getting a shower,
not knowing how long they'd be there.
About 2:30 A.M. on November 21, Ed Martin, from his cell in the Zoo, saw the flares over, explosions around, and surface-to-air missiles flying above Son Tay. Instinctively, he knew what was up.
As SAMs arched into the sky almost due west of his prison cell, Martin watched them explode harmlessly only 19 miles away; they were detonating everywhere from 2,000 to 18,000 feet above the terrain. He had seen lots of SAMs-at much closer range. One had finally nailed his F-4 on July 9, 1967. On the morning of November 2 1, however, Martin realized that not one SAM
had hit its target; he knew all too well what the explosion looked like when an SA-2 slammed into a plane in mid-air. He broke into tears. He knew that Son Tay was empty; but that didn't really matter, he told himself. America cared. He had his best night's sleep in three years.
Thirty-six days later, Martin found himself in a native paradise; he was moved into the Hanoi Hilton the day after Christmas, 1970. In a large room with him were 19 other POWs. Some were old Navy friends, some men he had heard being tortured in the Zoo but had never been able to talk to.
One of them was Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James H. Kastler, a hero well before he was shot down on August 8, 1966. He broke both legs on bailout and came to be held in virtual awe by his fellow prisoners. Taken to the Zoo, with Martin in a cell only 25 feet away, Kastler was put "on the ropes" one night and worked over unmercifully by a sadistic expert known only as "the Cuban." He was handcuffed, blindfolded, and beaten 700 times with a fan belt-100 strokes a day for seven days. Blindfolded, he couldn't anticipate the blows. There was no way of knowing when to tense up, when to relax; all he could do was wait. Each time he fell mercifully unconscious, the Cuban waited until Kastler came to and then started over.
Finally, Kastler said, "I surrender, I submit." Guards brought pencil and paper so he could sign his "confession."
But when they told him to write, Kastler replied calmly, "I've changed my mind." His torture started all over again.
Ed Martin listened to it all. He would say of the Cuban, seven years later, "I'd pay $5,000 right now to find out who that bastard is."
Jim Kastler's fate in North Vietnamese hands wasn't made any easier by a Time magazine story about him that hit the newsstands just before his capture. It told of an F-105 pilot who'd become a legend among disgruntled airmen fighting an air war under "rules of engagement" imposed by Washington that made it almost impossible to hit a meaningful target, and which had turned the skies over North Vietnam into a duck-shooting gallery. But, Time noted, Major James Kastler somehow always got his target. No one knew how he did it. A week later he was shot down on a strike south of Hanoi. It wasn't long before Hanoi got its copy of Time and the North Vietnamese knew they'd nailed a big one. They kept him in solitary for years, determined to break him. Thanks to Son Tay, Jim Kastler finally got a roommate in the Hanoi Hilton.
Another of Martin's cellmates in the Hanoi Hilton was Captain Bill Lawrence, the Constellation attack wing commander and former aide whom Tom Moorer had heard shot down on June 28, 1967, a few weeks before he became Chief of Naval Operations. Martin saw Bill Lawrence go down; he was leading a strike right behind him. Two weeks later, Martin himself got smoked. Wounded when his plane was hit and beaten to a pulp later, Martin soon became very, very
ill. He thought he, was going to die. He used the tap code to seek help. Lawrence was the man he contacted. Lawrence told him not to give up. When he didn't hear from Martin, Lawrence tapped out a message asking for Martin's help. It forced Martin to "get it together" and not give up.
Thanks to Son Tay, Martin and Lawrence finished their "Program" in North Vietnam together.
The Department of Defense has a section of their website devoted to National POW-MIA recognition day, coming in September. It's worth checking out, and you can find it here.