Captain Jack Fellowes, USN (Ret.) passed away this week in Annapolis, MD. The Naval Institute had an opportunity to hear Fellowes describe his experience as a POW as a part of our Americans at War Series.
Fellowes also did his Oral History in 1975. Fellowes, pilot in squadron VA-65, was shot down in August 1966 while flying an A-6A Intruder on a bombing mission from the aircraft carrier Constellation (CVA-64). His target was Vinh in the panhandle area of North Vietnam. Fellowes’s back was broken by the time he was captured on the ground by militiamen. His bombardier-navigator, George Coker, was also captured. The oral history describes Fellowes’s six-and-one-half-year ordeal in North Vietnamese hands, recounting incidents concerning many of his fellow prisoners. He particularly cited the leadership qualities of POWs James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, and Robinson Risner.
Included is discussion of such issues as the quality of military survival training and the importance of moral development; interrogation and torture; minimum medical treatment; meager food rations; usefulness of cigarettes; physical fitness exercise; camp policies; deaths of other prisoners; communication procedures; entertainment the POWs devised for each other;
visits to North Vietnam by war protesters such as Jane Fonda; being paraded in public in Hanoi; the futile Son Tay raid of 1970; B-52 raids on Hanoi; concerns about his family members back home and limited correspondence with them. Fellowes was released from captivity in early 1973. The oral history tells of his return, a description supplemented by his article “Operation Homecoming,” which appeared in the December 1976 issue of Proceedings.
- Aloft in solitudes of space,
- Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
- Thou Who supports with tender might
- The balanced birds in all their flight.
- Lord, if the tempered winds be near,
- That, having Thee, they know no fear.
- — Mary C. D. Hamilton (1915)
- God Bless this hero and his family.
Update: From the Annapolis Capital