Thursday, April 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Oregon veteran recalls helping POWs

By
From page B10 | February 24, 2013 | 2 Comments

MEDFORD, Ore. — As a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer 40 years ago, Jim Maddux was a bit apprehensive when he first met the prisoner of war he was charged with debriefing.

“But when I walked into his hospital room, he said, ‘Hi, I’m Ron Bliss. I understand we’ve got some work to do,’ ” recalls Maddux, now 65, of Medford. “I told him, ‘Ron, we’ve got a lot of work to do.’

“He had memorized about 500 names and information about POWs in Vietnam – names, service, where last seen alive and the date,” he adds. “This was critical intelligence we needed.”

Maddux, now a senior financial adviser, was part of Operation Homecoming. Its mission: Return 591 prisoners of war from North Vietnam after the Paris Peace Accords were signed on Jan. 27, 1973. Most of the POWs had been captured in Vietnam, although a few came from Cambodia or Laos during the Vietnam War. They were being held in Hanoi.

The first group was released on Feb. 12, 1973. The operation continued into April that year. Bliss, a prisoner for seven years, was released March 4, 1973.

“We didn’t know what kind of shape they would be in,” said Maddux, a captain at the time. “We planned for the worst and hoped for the best.

“There had been reports that had come from sources in North Vietnam that there had been brainwashing,” he says. “We didn’t know if they would be robots. We didn’t know if they would be hostile to the United States. But it became readily apparent they were on very solid ground. There were a few cases of psychological issues, but 95 percent were pretty squared away.”

The longest-held civilian POW in Vietnam was Ernest C. Brace, now 81, of Klamath Falls. The former Marine Corps fighter pilot who flew more than 100 combat missions in Korea was flying for a civilian aircraft when it was shot down over Laos on May 21, 1965.

He escaped several times as a POW, but was recaptured and beaten severely each time. He was eventually sent to a POW camp known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he became friends with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. McCain was a Navy pilot who had been shot down in fall 1967.

Brace spent seven

years and 10 months – 2,868 days – as a POW before climbing aboard the American plane at the Hanoi airport on March 28, 1973.

“My thoughts when I was getting on that plane in Hanoi (were) that I was going to have to find another job,” Brace said jokingly during an interview with the Mail Tribune.

Actually, Brace, who still swims daily to keep in shape, spent several months convalescing before he could even think about work. Besides, he had some back pay coming.

“What I was thinking about was ice cream and pie and steak and eggs,” he says.

Brace’s story is told in his 1988 book, “A Code to Keep.” In the foreword, written by McCain, the senator calls Brace a true American hero. The two old friends will see each other at a reunion of POWs at the Nixon Library in Southern California in May.

“We’ll see a bunch of the old POWs at the reunion,” Brace said.

Maddux, who had spent a year in Vietnam beginning in June 1970, and other intelligence officers involved in Operation Homecoming had learned everything they could about the POWs before their release.

“We utilized all our intelligence sources to maintain our POW/MIA index,” he says. “It was highly classified. We wanted to know their status.”

The son of Air Force Lt. Gen. Sam Maddux Jr., who retired in 1970, Jim Maddux would serve in the Air Force and the National Security Agency for nine years, working in intelligence all the while.

“Freeing these guys was on everyone’s mind,” he recalls. “As the air war intensified, we were losing a lot of crews.”

They were also concerned about the POWs’ physical, psychological and spiritual well-being, he says.

“And we wanted to get all the intelligence information these guys could shed light on,” he says, adding that information could literally save the lives of POWs still in captivity.

To re-educate the POWs, they prepared documents that brought them up to date with the news. Maddux and others working on the operation were at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Preparations were made for their arrival at a large hospital on the base, he says.

Maddux was on the plane that landed in Hanoi on March 3, 1973. However, the restrictions permitted only a few select people on the ground. Maddux was not allowed off the plane during the hour and a half the plane was in Hanoi.

“They (POWs) came out of the buses and walked across the tarmac single file,” he says. “They had been given clean uniforms. It was very dramatic. They had all been cleaned up. The North Vietnamese had wanted to make a good impression.”

Maddux and the intelligence corps remained at the back of the plane during the flight back to the Philippines. Medical doctors and psychiatrists checked out the POWs.

“I didn’t talk to Ron Bliss on the plane – we didn’t want to start the process there,” Maddux says.

But Bliss, an F-105 pilot, was good to go once they returned to Clark Air Base.

“After we met, he asked if I had a tape recorder,” Maddux says. “He said we needed to go to a quiet room. That’s where he dumped the data.”

Bliss had been one of the POWs whose camp leaders had asked to keep the valuable information about prisoners in their heads.

“They compiled that information among themselves,” Maddux says. “That’s a real commentary on the leadership in the POW camps.”

Maddux kept in touch with Bliss for years afterwards. The former POW would become an international patent attorney. He later succumbed to cancer.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • RichFebruary 24, 2013 - 11:29 am

    I wish we had dropped the H-bomb on Vietnam back in September 1964 and finished it, then and there. What our men went through was unspeakable hell and many were murdered in captivity. The only good that came out of the cauldron of Vietnam was the advancement of aerospace and weapons technology that paid off in 1991. The Vietnam Veteran paid in blood for our easy ride.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • hanoi guide, hanoi travel, hanoi, hanoi free tour guide, hanoi city tour, hanoi tour bookings, hanoi information, hanoiApril 04, 2013 - 10:06 am

    Hi there very cool blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Superb .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also?I am glad to search out numerous helpful information here in the post, we need develop extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Carli takes oath, now Vacaville’s 14th police chief

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Huge jump in Solano median home price

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

Supervisor candidates square off at forum

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano DA hosts workshop to fight human trafficking

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Donate a car, help build a house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield town hall on crime delayed

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 11 Comments

Railway museum offers wine-tasting rides

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
 
Drugs topic of cardiac class

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Weather for April 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
Fairfield police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun Police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Armed robber was never told to report to prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Lost sea lion in California found mile from water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Body of California man who jumped into river found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Seabird from Atlantic spotted on Alcatraz

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-Bell city leader gets 12 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
California delays decision on protecting gray wolf

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Court rules for environmentalists in water fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Governor calls special session on rainy day fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Pro-Russian insurgents seize armored vehicles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ferry sinks off South Korea; 6 dead, 290 missing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Denver police eye 911 response time after killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Man charged with marathon hoax is held on bail

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Geneva talks on Ukraine face steep hurdles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Parenting demands responsibility

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Obamacare news you probably missed

By Martin Schram | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

Editorial Cartoons for April 17, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

 
In support of Pam Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

.

Living

Today in History for April 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

A lesson in household budgeting

By Chris Erskine | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes for April 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Daniel Radcliffe on why New York audiences rock

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Alicia Silverstone out with book ‘Kind Mama’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Jenny McCarthy announces engagement on ‘The View’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Ailing Malcolm Young taking break from AC/DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Disney Channel’s ‘Jessie’ breaks romantic ground

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

MEL, SCAC tangle in hoops all-star games

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Sharks take goalie questions into rematch vs Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Crawford’s 41 points leads Warriors over Nuggets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Vacaville’s Peralta to wrestle at San Francisco State

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Angels beat A’s 5-4 on Iannetta’s HR in 12th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Spieth ready for more after Masters success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Backup QB Matt Flynn returns to Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaches deal to sell team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sidney Rice agrees to terms with Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Goodwin helps Suns to 104-99 win over Kings in finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

IndyCar driver Saavedra fined $10K

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sandoval’s single lifts Giants past Dodgers, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Officer: Sharper’s DNA found on 1 Arizona victim

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jets sign former Titans RB Chris Johnson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Yellen: Fed stimulus still needed for job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Some exempted from minimum wage, increased or not

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Google’s 1Q earnings disappoint as ad prices slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Fed survey: Growth picks up across most of US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Bank of America posts loss, hurt by legal charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9