SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret)
Barbara Powers Wyatt
Editor P.O.W. Publications
10250 Moorpark St.
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
I was graduated from Loras College, Dubuque, lowa in 1960 with a B.A. degree in Mathematics. While attending Loras I was a member of the varsity basketball team.
At the time I was shot down over North Vietnam, I was attached to Attack Squadron 113, flying an A4C from the carrier USS Enterprise. I was captured on May 18, 1967 a few miles north of Than Hoa, North Vietnam.
The most profound effect of my early days of capture consisted of a realization that for the first time in my life I was completely on my own. All the training I had received was now behind me, and, possibly for a long time, no one would be coming to my aid. When we found ourselves in trouble in America, we could count on being given the benefit of the doubt or on a little kindness. Now, in prison, it was entirely up to me to perform and I could not expect any breaks.
The lesson of humility was very difficult for me to accept. It was not easy for a man to admit that he was not as tough as he imagined. But, once accepted, this truth opened a door of knowledge to self introspection that few people have known outside of a prisoner of war situation. I feel the nearly six years spent in personal introspection was my greatest gain. I was able to establish a hierarchy of values, to determine what is important in life, to gain an insight as to what motivates me, and to achieve an appreciation for life itself, the value of time, the worth of education, and the beauty of being loved and to love. Some of these values were given to me by my fellow prisoners, either by example or through thought provoking discussions.
When we POW's say faith sustained us, I am speaking of three types of confidence: first, the assurance that the United States of America valued our lives and would make every effort to retrieve us; secondly, the trust we had in ourselves as a unit; and finally, the inspiration we realized from the man next to us. This inspiration came in the form of a kind word when one's spirits were low, an example of strength of character, or perhaps, as a model of uncomplaining suffering.
For me, prayer took on a new dimension. I came to realize God could not answer my selfish requests without upsetting the normal course of events in the world. But He never failed me when I sought courage and strength to face the inevitable.
We POW's and the people of the United States have endured many hardships during the war in Vietnam. My hope now is that we POW's are not the only ones who accomplished some serious thinking. If Americans can apply the lessons learned to intelligently determine which direction our country will move, and then, enthusiastically embrace the responsibility all citizens have to support those leaders with whom they agree, I am confident our gains will far exceed any losses.
Robert Naughton retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and his wife Peggy reside in Texas.