Manual Glory Denied: The Vietnam Saga of Jim Thompson, Americas Longest-Held Prisoner of War

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Whitesides and U. Thompson survived the crash, suffering burns, a bullet wound across the cheek and a broken back, and was quickly captured by the Viet Cong. Whitesides was never found. Aerial search and ground patrols failed to find any trace of the aircraft.

Glory denied : the saga of Vietnam veteran Jim Thompson, America's longest-held prisoner of war

The following day, 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. Thompson spent the next nine years as a prisoner of war, first at the hands of the Viet Cong; he was later moved to the Hanoi prison system.

During his captivity, he was tortured and starved, and suffered the mental anguish of being isolated from other US POWs. At one point, Thompson did not speak to another American for over five years. He was released in mid-March, in Operation Homecoming.


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The years following his homecoming, however, were far from happy. Thompson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and then to full Colonel, but had missed the most important years of his military career while in prison. He didn't have any formal education beyond OCS and hadn't even had experience as a Company Commander. 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, believing him dead, had been living with another man at the time he was repatriated.

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He and his wife divorced in Thompson's wife 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. Thompson later remarried, but divorced soon afterwards. Thompson was never able to form any kind of a relationship with his children.

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His daughters were only 6, 5 and 4 when he left and his son was born the day of his capture. Only his eldest child barely remembered him. Sadly, 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.

Thompson eventually became completely estranged from all his children. He developed a very serious drinking problem and was in several military hospitals for treatment. In , Thompson attempted suicide with an overdose of pills and alcohol. 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 , while still on active duty, Thompson suffered a massive heart attack and also suffered a severe stroke. He was in a coma for months and was left seriously disabled.

Simply link your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership number to your Booktopia account and earn points on eligible orders. Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Your points will be added to your account once your order is shipped. Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! He was Born in New Jersey in and only dreamed of being a military man.

U.S. Veteran Describes Being Prisoner of War in Vietnam

Marrying shortly after high school, he joined the army in and was dispatched to Vietnam in when America still seemed innocent. Jim Thompson would have led a perfectly ordinary, undistinguished life had he not been captured four months later, becoming the first American prisoner in Vietnam and, ultimately, the longest-held prisoner of war in American history.

Forgotten Soldier is Thompson's epic story, a remarkable reconstruction of one man's life and a searing account that questions who is a real American hero. Examining the lives of Thompson's family on the home front, as well as his brutal treatment and five escape attempts in Vietnam, military journalist Tom Philpott weaves an extraordinary tale, showing how the American government intentionally suppressed Thompson's story.


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An excruciating oral history of the life of the longest-held American prison of the Vietnam War, from "Military Update "columnist Philpott. Thompson was held prisoner in Vietnam from until Although his experiences during those nine years make horrifying reading, it must be said that they do not add up to a terribly interesting biography-for, as the author makes abundantly clear, Thompson was not a very appealing or even decent character.

He was a brute who regularly beat his wife and was rarely sober before he was shipped to Vietnam with his Special Forces unit.

His life is pieced together in a mosaic of interviews, given by some 80 people, that describes both the terrible ordeal Thompson suffered as a POW and the unpleasant life led by his family back home. Shortly after the plane he was flying went down and he was reported missing, his wife moved in with another man. Thompson was psychologically and physically tortured for years, starved and beaten: "I was put into a horizontal cage maybe two feet wide, two feet high, and five feet long.

There I was kept for four months, chained hand and feet. Although he managed to survive his imprisonment, Thompson returned home to a family shattered by his experience, one that would never reunite-indeed, one that has simply disintegrated. The entire story is grim, allegorically opaque, and too long by half.

Fate and politics dealt Thompson a bad hand, and he ought to have been left in peace-biographically as well. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist.