HESS, JAY  CRIDDLE

Name: Jay Criddle Hess
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force, Pilot
Unit: 357th TFS
Date of Birth: 09 May 1930
Home City of Record: Farmington UT
Date of Loss: 24 August 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213900 North  1063500 East
Status (in 1973): Returee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105
Missions: 33
Other Personnel in Incident: none

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.

REMARKS: 730314 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

JAY C. HESS
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: August 24, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973

                               THERE IS A WAY
                      
Is there  room for one more in  there? A casually dressed All-American type
man carefully picks  his way around and over the slightly boisterous crowd
seated on the floor. The last space is now filled. On a screen in the Takhli
Thailand Officers Club flashes  a story of the men who fly the F-105 over
North Vietnam The title: There Is A Way.

An hour before, the latecomer had been in a sweat stained flight suit
debriefing his flight over the North. There had been lots of flak, some MlGs
and SAMs. A distant voice caught his ear. It came from behind him. It said,
kiddingly, "There ain't no way." The voice referred to completing 100
missions. Three months pass, our late comer, now looking anything but
All-American, awaits Christmas 1967 in a Hanoi prison. He is with three
newly made friends. There is no use even thinking about Christmas - "There
ain't no way." Christmas Eve comes. The camp radio, in poor fidelity, plays
Christmas music. Our despondent former flyer is moved by the Spirit of
Christmas. The peep hatch on the door opens. A gift from the minister of the
Evangelical Church of the DRVN (Democratic Republic of Vietnam) is handed
in. It is four small plastic bags containing a tangerine and some candy.

Christmas morning the camp gong rings as usual. The four sleep in, taking
advantage of the Christmas spirit. Later awakened by the sound of keys and a
bang on the door, they scramble to their feet. Two of the four stumble
around looking for a missing rubber sandal. "Better hurry, the turnkey is
coming in," the other two say in unison. With one shoe off and one shoe on,
they start toward the door. Then they stop in amazement. There, across the
room, is a Christmas tree! Santa's been here!

For an instant, through sleepy eyes and the confusion, it is real - a real
Christmas tree, and the only one who could have put it there was Santa. The
guard yells. We line up. Then it changes - like Cinderella's coach at
midnight. The Christmas tree turns into just a tea pot with a small broom
stuffed in it upside down. Tucked between the straws are a few candy
wrappers imitating colored balls. Around the broom, imitating tinsel, is
wrapped the gauze from a bandage. Scattered at the base of the tea pot are a
few orange peelings and fallen leaves which had been guardedly gathered from
the courtyard over the previous days. And there, lined up before the tree,
are the two missing shoes. On them had been placed two colorful pieces of
candy. I had seen a similar sight the year before in Germany.

Embarrassed by my lack of effort, I learned a big lesson that day. Even when
you think there's not - There Is A Way! Every Christmas Eve from then on, I
hung up my stocking and there was always something good in it on Christmas
morning. It helped to keep that lesson in mind. I suppose it may have still
tested me a bit, if, every day, someone would have said, "You've got to hang
on for five more years." The response may have been, "There ain't no way."

But - there was a way! For it I thank a lot of people. First, our courageous
President, then my family and you who worked to improve our treatment, those
who prayed, wrote letters, wore bracelets and all who have written to
express their joy in my return. Thanks, also, to all who have done so much
for us since we've come home. And to you who still wait for someone, or a
certain answer, thanks for your faith, your courage, your strength and for
what you do for all of us. If some should walk these same paths tomorrow, or
any other which causes worry and doubt, remember with me, "There is a way !"

--------------------
Jay Hess retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel on 1
November 1973. He and his wife Michelle reside in Utah.

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