CODE OF HONOR by John A. Dramesi


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Colonel Dramesi (then a captain) was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam on April 2, 1967, and subsequently endured six years as a POW. Until he was released in 1973, he followed the Code of Conduct for POWs: no aid to the enemy--period. Dramesi was an absolute martinet, lived through months upon months of very great torture, actively planned dangerous escapes (twice he carried them out--the third was ready to go but he was talked out of it for the good of his fellow POWs), and maintained unwavering loyalty to Presidents Johnson and Nixon and the American war effort. Where other prisoners broke down and signed papers or made tapes repudiating America's role, he found that his great spiritual ability to endure arose from his inflexible beliefs. It did not matter whether he was right or wrong--it was his steel-on-stone strength which preserved him. Dramesi feels that his escape activities were dictated by his being a military man, demanded by the code, and that, moreover, they gave his existence as a POW a life-sustaining coherence. He writes well about his torments and tormentors, his fellow POWs, their general confusion and frequent dislike of his fanatic self-discipline. He remains silent about his present thoughts on the war--apparently because he's still an officer--which is too bad. His pain-by-pain description of tortures--of being shackled and watching mosquitoes drink to the full and fall bloated from his infected foot--is memorable as atrocity literature, but terribly limited and circumscribed in every other way. One wishes he could afford a less rigid perspective.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1975
Publisher: Norton