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.