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Return With Honor

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Gallery of Mike McGrath's drawings 1 of 12 next

On June 30, 1967, I took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation, CVA-64, on my 178th mission, an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. After bombing a small pontoon bridge, I picked out a second target. "Busy Bee rolling in," I said, as my wingman circled to watch my run. Suddenly there was a muffled explosion. My controls went slack as my A4-C Skyhawk began to roll uncontrollably. I could see the earth rising to meet me. Instinctively I pulled my ejection handle. The quick decision saved my life, but almost immediately after I landed on the ground, Vietnamese farmers and local militia jumped on me. One man held a rusty knife to my throat, while the others savagely ripped and cut away my clothing. It seemed as though they had never seen a zipper; they cut the zippers away instead of using them to remove my flight clothing. One man, in his haste to rip off my boots, managed to hyper-extend my left knee six times. Every time I screamed in pain, the rusty knife would be jabbed harder into my throat.

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