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

Posted by admin in From our Archive, History, Naval Institute

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  • MMAmbassador

    Rest in peace, sir.

    I have to admit I didn’t really know much about Fellowes or his tremendous ordeal in Vietnam until I saw his Americans at War video. We have much to learn from men like Fellowes and Stockdale, and countless other heroes. I’m also grateful that organizations like USNI have preserved the stories of these heroes so that their lessons live on in future generations.

  • CAPT Kurt Storey

    I went to the Academy with John Jr. His Dad was one of the funniest men I met while there since they lived close by in Annapolis. My father, also a POW with CAPT Fellowes, thought the world of him. He will be so missed. I used to think they don’t make men like this anymore, but they do. His son John.

  • Another America hero has answered the final call. Sir, you are an inspiration to all of us that serve today. Thank you for your service to our country, for your strength in the face of unfathomable brutality and strife, and for never giving into the demands of your captors. Your example is one that should be remembered by us all. My deepest condolences and prayers to your family, friends, and shipmates. Fair winds, following seas, and Semper Fidelis.

  • jwithington

    6.5 years in a POW camp? I’m guessing one does not survive that without tremendous dedication and determination. America has lost a hero.

  • Alexander Martin

    The truest of American heroes. Every citizen needs to hear this story – we’re so lucky to have it captured for all time. A national treasure.

    Sir, Godspeed on your next flight / you were and always be a great American.

  • I wish to extend my most heartfelt condolences to CAPT Fellowes family and loved ones. Watching the video and reading about him, I know you have lost a man of great humor and character.

    Fair winds and a following sea. Godspeed, sir.

  • YNSN

    “…the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and Democracy around the World.”

    It was because of men like CAPT Fellowes that those words were written, and why Sailors are made to memorize them.

    Fair winds and following seas, Sir.

  • My condolences to his family, and my admiration and respect to him. Sir, while you have answered the final call, your words live on and will benefit those who come behind. Thank you for them, for your service, and the inspiration you inspire still.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
    Through the great spaces in the sky,
    Be with them always in the air,
    In dark’ning storms or sunlight fair.
    O, Hear us when we lift our prayer,
    For those in peril in the air.

    Rest in Peace, Sir.

  • Kim

    My sincere condolences and sympathies to the family of CPT Fellowes. We have all lost a true hero. I thank him for his service.

    Rest in peace, Sir.

  • Carol Steward

    Capt. Fellowes is another fine example of our nation’s true heros. The Viet Nam conflict was entirely different than the wars we have going on today but our support for our military has never wavered. It is men and women like Capt. Fellowes that make my heart swell with pride and make me proud to be an AMER-I-CAN!! RIP Sir and thank you so very, very much for all you went through in order for us to still have our freedom today!!

  • Truly a national hero. I know this family thanks him for his sacrifices and what he’s done for this country. Rest in peace and best wishes to the family during this time.

  • Captain Patrick McCarthy

    The country has lost a true hero and a champion of all that the United States Navy stands for – Honor, Courage, and Committment. Captain Jack Fellowes will be missed by all who knew him. God bless him and his family and may he rest in peace as he rejoins his beloved daughter Cathy and watches over us all.

    Somehow though, I suspect he is giving it St. Peter with a sarcastic wit that most of us could only hope to have.

    Fair Winds and Following Seas

    Captain Pat McCarthy, JTF 435, Kabul, Afghanistan

  • To say that Captian Jack was was a true American hero is an understatement!. Not only was he a hero, but a role model for many of us in our feeble attempt to live our lives the way Jack did.
    I first met the good Captain at the Academy in 1976. He was everything they said he was. A true gentleman with a marvelous sense of humor. To this day it still amazes me how he was able to maintain such an optimistic outlook on life, after what he went through. We shared so many laughs everytime we spoke. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Pat and his family. We will miss him dearly. He will never be forgotten…

  • CMDCM Charlie Ratliff

    It is Memorial Day afternoon and I just read the news that Captain Fellowes has passed. He was a great American and the man who I respected more than anyone I’ve known in 28 years of Naval service. He spoke at three two Navy balls and one dining in I attended and at each event everyone in attendance was touched by his words. I will always remember our conversation as I drove him from the airport to his BOQ room at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. He was a humble man and a true American hero. May God bless Captain Jack Fellowes and his family. Fair winds and following seas sir!
    CMDCM(SW/AW/FMF) Charlie Ratliff

  • Yehuda Goldman

    I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Jack Fellowes for the Americans at War series and I must say that after hearing him tell his story in great detail, I left that conversation feeling not only proud, but actually inspired. His wit, boundless courage and dignity demonstrated clearly the caliber of this man and to sum it up and I’ll use Jack’s own words, “We returned with honor.” Now that is what America is all about.

  • Adelbert L.Walker

    I just found out that Capt Fellowes had passed. I had the distinct pleasure of having him as an instructor at Navy. I was truly inspired by his courage, his dedication to the US Navy and the United States. By all accounts he conducted himself in keeping with the highes traditions of the Naval Service.

  • AndrewJ. Lager (Former LT,NC, USN)

    Captain “Jack” laid out the expectations of leadership and his expectations of us as new Naval Officers. Upon our introduction to our first duty station (Bethesda Naval Hospital) and command orientation, Captain Jack emplored us to be leaders with spiritual wealth and individual integrity that is beyond reproach. He educated us on the value of survival and trust in your fellow man when he was a prisoner of war. I am honored to have been guided by one of the best; I still see him standing there, eloquent, blunt and proud in 1983. Shortly after our arrival, we were tested with casualities from Beruit and Granada..Captain Jack’s words were every present in our minds. May God Bless our fine Captain. We will remember you always and continue leading by example, by the standards you taught us.
    A. J. Lager, USN, NC