DRISCOLL, JERRY DONALD Name: Jerry Donald Driscoll Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron Date of Birth: 21 February 1940 Home City of Record: Chicago IL Date of Loss: 24 April 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212900N 1060700E (XJ156758) Status (in 1973: Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D
Other Personnel In Incident: William E. Cooper (missing) in same flight
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated loss coordinate typo - P.O.W. NETWORK 2002.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: On April 24, 1966, a multi-plane strike force departed Korat Airbase, Thailand on a strike mission on a highway-railroad bridge north of Hanoi. The target was a vital link, bearing traffic coming down from China.
The Squadron Commander (and commander of the mission), LtCol. William E. Cooper was in one flight of four F105s. In another of the flights was 1Lt. Jerry D. Driscoll.
As the first flight approached the target, Cooper's F105D was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). The plane subsequently broke in half, and the front section, with canopy intact, was observed as it fell into a flat spin. Witnessed did not see Cooper eject and and believed the he went down with the aircraft, but there was doubt enough that the Air Force determined him Missing in Action rather than killed.
Just afterwards, 1Lt. Jerry D. Driscoll (code-name Pecan 4) was inbound to the target, about ten miles north, going approximately 550 knots (about 600 miles per hour) when his aircraft was struck in the tail by anti-aircraft fire, causing it to catch fire. Flames were blowing out the back twice as long as the aircraft. Others in the flight radioed to Driscoll that he was on fire, and he immediately prepared to eject as the aircraft commenced a roll. Driscoll punched out at about 1000 feet, with the aircraft nearly inverted, and as a result, his parachute barely opened before he was on the ground. He had removed his parachute and was starting to take off his heavy flight suit when he was surrounded by about twenty North Vietnamese and captured.
Driscoll was moved immediately to the "Heartbreak Hotel" in Hanoi where his interrogation (and torture) began. Driscoll was a POW for the next seven years, and was released in Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973.
Just before his release, one returning POW was told by his interrogators that LtCol. Cooper had died in the crash of the aircraft. At least one intelligence report, however, indicates that Cooper was captured alive. The U.S. believes the Vietnamese could account for Cooper and his name has been included on lists brought before the Vietnamese in recent years as one of scores of "discrepancy cases" it is felt can be resolved.
When the Peace Accords were signed ending American involvement in Vietnam, 591 American prisoners were released. Experts at the time expressed dismay that "some hundreds" expected to be released were not, yet only perfunctory efforts to secure the release of the others were made. In our haste to leave Indochina, we abandoned some of our best men.
Shockingly, many authorities now believe, based on over 10,000 reports relating to these missing Americans, that there are still hundreds alive in captivity. Whether Cooper could be among them is unknown, but what seems certain is that if even one is still alive, we have a moral obligation to bring him home.
William E. Cooper was awarded the Air Force Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained Missing in Action. He is married and has five children.
Jerry D. Driscoll graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1963, and was promoted to the rank of Captain during his captivity.
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).
JERRY D. DRISCOLL Captain - United States Air Force Shot Down: April 24, 1966 Released: February 12, 1973
My military service started when I entered the United States Air Force Academy in June 1959, graduating on June 5, 1963. In October 1965 I volunteered to go to Southeast Asia. On April 24, 1966, on my 11 2th combat mission, my F-105 jet fighter bomber was shot down. When I was on the ground my helmet was ripped off and I had cuts all over. Twenty people surrounded me, some with guns and some with bamboo sticks. You know, a sharpened bamboo stock will kill you as fast as a gun. I had a sprained ankle and a twisted knee. I never once saw a doctor, but the body has great recuperative powers when given a chance.
On July 6, 1966 I was the head of the second group of the infamous "street march". It got out of hand. They were a raging mob, throwing sticks at us. I was punched and kicked; it got so bad it was even a matter of survival for our guards.
There are still circular scars on my wrists which will serve as a life-long reminder of the torture endured in the ancient French walled prison in the center of Hanoi. This was the one dubbed the Hanoi Hilton.
I had learned at the Air Force Academy never to make a harmful statement about your country, but I was also told "Don't let them do any permanent damage to you." When I kept telling my captors I would never sign their statements, they forced me to sit on a pile of bricks for 24 and 48 hour periods, hands handcuffed behind my back and then hoisted up to the shoulder blades. They would then twist the handcuff chains as tight as they could. Then they would make me lie on my stomach while they pounded the handcuffs tighter with their feet. If you brought your hands down at all, the handcuffs would cut deep into your wrists.
Once I sat like that for 90 hours, with no sleep. I passed out. I still would not sign, so they used ropes to bring the elbows together behind my back and cut off the circulation. I lasted six days like that, with the cuffs and ropes. That's when I thought I would go crazy-I signed an apology for dropping bombs over their land.
I kept in shape with push-ups and lifting weights made by rolling a bunch of our bed mats (made of elephant grass) together. We were given three cigarets a day, and later, six. That was the only warmth in the place. There was no heat even in the winter. It got very cold.
When one is placed in the situation we experienced in North Vietnam, there comes the great, painful realization that what we all take so much for granted is no longer available. In such a situation you can't help but appreciate what we have in this great country of ours. That appreciation became even greater when, after seven years of living under Communism, I returned to find a very grateful nation welcoming us as we stepped off the airplane.
There is but one word which best describes the United States of America-FREEDOM!
Jerry Driscoll retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and his wife Sharon reside in Minnesota.