ALPERS, JOHN H. Jr.
RIP - Aug 6, 2015

Name: John H. Alpers Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force
Unit: 335th TFS
Date of Birth: 02 April 1948
Home City of Record: Boulder CO
Date of Loss: 05 October 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 214300 North  1050800 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Missions: 87
Other Personnel in Incident: Keith Lewis, returnee, pilot

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data
from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews.  2015

REMARKS: 730329 RELEASED BY DRV


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
         
JOHN H. ALPERS, JR.
Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down: October 5, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973

Personal: Age 33, 10 years military service,  career Air Force, served as
Radar Navigator, B-52's, SAC, and Weapons System Officer, F-4's, PACAF and
TAC. Two combat tours in SEA.
         
Education: B. S. University of Colorado in 1963. 
           MBA Inter-American University at
           Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico 1969.
         
Family: Sharon (wife), Vicki, 13 and Kristi, 10 (daughters), John III.
                          
I was shot down over North Vietnam on 5 October 1972 while flying an F4
bombing mission. I was captured immediately and transported to the Hanoi
Hilton. After 22 days of isolation, I was taken to the "Zoo" where I spent the
major portion of my imprisonment. I was repatriated on 29 March 1973.
         
All my life I have felt a tremendous sense of pride and excitement when I
recited the Pledge of Allegiance, or heard the National Anthem and saw our
flag. But during the last few years there have been times when the actions of
small but vocal dissident groups have caused me great anxiety. It seemed that
our country was being pulled apart. Patriotism, love of country, religious
conviction-all were suspect and somehow "out of style." It has, therefore,
thrilled me beyond my wildest dreams to experience the tremendous outpouring
of love and genuine happiness that I have seen since my return. From al! over
the country letters have been sent to me and my family by people we have never
met, and there is a common thread throughout: expressions of pride,
patriotism, and the awareness of God's benevolence. It has been a
reaffirmation to me of the fact that I have always known to be true - that
love of country has not been lost  and that the United States of America is
the most wonderful country on this earth. I am humbly proud to have the
privilege of serving her.
         
My immediate plans are for AFROTC faculty duty, and as much time with my
family as I can possibly obtain.

-------------------
John Alpers Jr retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
and Sharon reside in Colorado.
------------------------

09/2011 - NAF

From the Archives Another Reason We Need H.Res 111 – Documents and memos found in the records of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs continues to amaze us.  Some add context to documents already in hand.  Others offer new avenues of investigation.  Some leave us shaking our heads and wondering; why would they suggest this if they didn’t have some type of evidence?

One such document, dated July 1, 1992, is an internal email written by committee investigator Harold “Nick” Nicklas.  Addressed to Committee Chief of Staff, Frances Zwenig, the email offers a list of suggested questions for the Vietnamese.  Among the questions posed are two suggesting the committee had information the events occurred.

The first question is: “We believer (sic) you sent a B-52 crew to the Soviet Union for debriefing and they were returned to your control?  Our intelligence also reports flights to the Soviet Union of small groups of American electronic warfare officers in questioning American Prisoners.  How did your cooperation work?”

Our Comment - Both the Vietnamese and Russians deny Soviet involvement with American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia. Claiming the Soviets only observed interrogations submitting any questions for the American’s to the Vietnamese, who would ask the question.  Yet, we know the Vietnamese gave Cuban interrogators unlimited access to a limited group of POWs.  It is hard to believe the Soviets who supplied the North Vietnamese with aircraft and anti-missile sites were not given access to POWs, while the Cuban who provided far less support had unlimited access.

The second question of interest reads:  “We believe you sent an F111 and its crew downed by Chinese 37mm anti-aircraft fire to China for exploitation and debriefing?  Please tell who was sent and when they returned to your control.  Why did they not return with Homecoming?”

Our Comment - While there is no information on this F111, we do have the words of former POW John Alpers who believes his initial interview determined his fate sending him to Hanoi rather than China or the former Soviet Union.  In a letter, dated November 7, 1991 addressed to Committee Chairman John Kerry, Alpers described this first interview saying:

“I and my pilot were captured immediately and taken toward Hanoi.  Sometime in the middle of that first night we disembarked the truck we had been riding in and were handcuffed to a tree.  I was then taken alone into a structure and made to sit on a stool.  My blindfold was removed and I found myself in front of a table behind which were sitting four oriental men in civilian clothes.  The one who conducted interrogation was tall, slim and used impeccable English.  A prolonged effort was made to get me to discuss certain elements of my mission, aircraft, base and combat leadership chain-of-command.  I also remember numerous questions directed at my own general level of military knowledge, as well as other questions which tired to elicit comment from me about specific technical knowledge of equipment and tactics which I might possess….”

“I and my pilot were captured immediately and taken toward Hanoi.  Sometime in the middle of that first night we disembarked the truck we had been riding in and were handcuffed to a tree.  I was then taken alone into a structure and made to sit on a stool.  My blindfold was removed and I found myself in front of a table behind which were sitting four oriental men in civilian clothes.  The one who conducted my interrogation was tall, slim and used impeccable English.  A prolonged effort was made to get me to discuss certain elements of my mission, aircraft, base and combat leadership chain-of-command.  I also remember numerous questions directed at my own general level of military knowledge, as well as other questions which tired to elicit comment from me about specific technical knowledge of equipment and tactics which I might possess.”

Alpers continued saying:

 “I have for the past 18 years thought that this interrogation was intended by the enemy to accomplish two things: First, to ascertain my general level of physical well-being (people with major and/or disfiguring wounds almost never turned up in the Hanoi prison system), and; second, whether I might have certain military information that could be of immediate use to the Hanoi war effort.”

In closing Alpers wrote;

“I can now better understand another possible reason for all the interest in my technical knowledge.  The possibility I might have “special talents” of use to Red China and the Soviet Union.”

“I and my pilot managed to get through that “screening” process and were subsequently taken on to the Hanoi Hilton.  I now believe that other captives either “failed the physical” and were disposed of, or were diverted from Hanoi and taken north through Red China to Russia so that the communists could try to exploit certain “special talents.”  By the way, I felt then and still do now that my chief interrogator that night was Chinese, not North Vietnamese.  Also that this relatively important person was not in a dilapidated building out in the boonies of North Vietnam in the middle of the night just my accident.        This interrogation seemed to be an on-going process.  My inquisitors were there when we arrived.  They were waiting for us, not us being made to wait for them.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John had passed away on Aug 6, 2015 from prostate cancer and that his
wife, Sharon, passed away 13 days later from complications relating to
an accident in 2003.  John was an F-4 WSO shot down on Oct 5, 1972.


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