“14 March 1973, That Was A Pretty Good Day”: The Journey Home From The Hanoi Hilton

Robert Campbell Jones


This interview is a continuation of Bob Jones’ first interview from May 2008. In that interview, equipment limitations resulted in an abrupt conclusion to the recording. This interview picks up where his first interview finished: his journey from the Hanoi Hilton to the Gia Lam Airport, where C-141s were waiting to pick up the Prisoners of War. He was in the third group released because, even though he had been a prisoner for five years, there were two groups ahead of him who had been held longer. Throughout the repatriation ceremony, none of the prisoners showed any emotion, having agreed among themselves to remain stoic because of how the North Vietnamese had treated them, and they were determined not to give North Vietnam the propaganda victory of allowing the captors to appear benevolent. Once the plane was airborne, the former prisoners rejoiced. When they landed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, they were welcomed by Admiral Gayler before being admitted to the hospital for care and monitoring. After several days of being “confined” to the hospital (“we went from one prison to another – not really”), Jones and another former POW “escaped” to go to Happy Hour at the Officers’ Club (the best Officers’ Club in the Air Force). After spending all night away from the hospital, Jones returned to find his extremely stressed escort officer. After departing the Philippines, the former POWs flew to Hawaii and San Diego before returning home. Jones was welcomed home at a parade in Chatham, New Jersey, and was reunited with his parents, who had not known he was alive for the first two years of his captivity. In 1976, he left the Air Force and became an airline pilot, flying for American. He concludes the interview by reflecting on what West Point and his service mean to him.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie P.O.W.s Returning from War Air Force
interviewer David Siry
date 04 June 2022


name Robert Campbell Jones
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Air Force
unit 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron (RVN)
specialty F-4 Phantom Pilot; Prisoner of War POW
service dates 1965 1976