The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. This week, we delve into one of our first POW interviews.
Lt. Commander James W. Bailey (Bill) sat down to share his experiences with us on September 11, 1973, less than a year after his release. His memories of sixty-eight months as a POW were still fresh and raw in his mind.
1973 - Kosciusko native, Bill Bailey, served as a Navy Flight Officer on the aircraft carrier, USS Ranger. In this episode he recalls how his F4 Phantom jet was shot down over North Vietnam on June 28, 1967. When Bailey’s plane was downed by the North Vietnamese, he and his pilot were taken prisoner. He describes being tortured for three days by interrogators trying to obtain information.
As a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, Bill Bailey was subjected to harsh treatment by the camp guards. He remembers how they were replaced by with new, more humane guards in early 1970.
After spending sixty-eight grueling months as a POW in North Vietnam, Bailey was finally allowed to go home. He recounts how conditions in the prison camp improved dramatically about a month before they were released.
CAUTION: CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF TORTURE.
PHOTO: A plane load of recently released POWs on their way home in 1973. Public domain.