Today’s Facebook edition includes my MidWeek column about the day I was released from Hoa Lo prison forty years ago today. That’s the north Vietnamese prison we called “The Hanoi Hilton”, just for the irony. In keeping with that irony, there is now an actual Hilton Hotel very near that site in Hanoi.
And Hoa Lo prison has now been spruced up as a museum to document and commemorate the “humane and lenient treatment” supposedly accorded to American POWs; and French and Vietnamese prisoners before us.
Today, the fortieth anniversary of my return to freedom, I am reminded of so many things we take for granted which simply didn’t exist for me those seven years and nine days; the tender touch of a loved one, the happy giggles of a grandchild, a cup of coffee, scrumptious mocha ice cream, a good book, and…hot water.
I’ll never forget standing in a hot shower at the hospital at Clark Air Force Base–our first stop for processing after leaving Vietnam–with the hot soapy water coursing down my body, and my vow to take an occasional cold shower just to remind myself of the luxury of a hot shower.
But I’ve found that hasn’t been necessary.
Thank God for our precious freedoms. – Captain Gerald Coffee