TRIMBLE, JACK R. Name: Jack R. Trimble Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force, pilot Unit: 13th TFS Date of Birth: 1947 Home City of Record: Sumpter SC Date of Loss: 27 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 203100 North 1053200 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E Missions: 99 North Vietnam 186 Total Other Personnel in Incident: Carl Jefcoat, returnee 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: 730329 RELEASED BY DRV
THIS BIO EDITED BY REQUEST OF JACK TRIMBLE: 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 JACK R. TRIMBLE Lieutenant - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 27, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973 Lt. Jack R. Trimble was born in 1947. His father was an officer in the military and, as a result, Jack's childhood years were spent in the usual gypsy-like movement from base to base. He attended a Military Academy for high school. In 1965, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve. Jack won acongressional appointment to the Air Force Academy. He graduated and was commissioned on 3 June 1970. He tried to get a waiver that would allow him to go to pilot training, but was unsuccessful. So, he set his goal on becoming a weapons system operator in an F-4 Phantom II with hopes of getting a chance for pilot training at a later date. In June of l971, Lt. Trimble was awarded his navigator wings and was assigned to an F-4 replacement training unit at George AFB, California. He left the United States in March of 1972 for his first operational assignment at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand. From April until December of 1972 Lt. Trimble flew 175 combat sorties with 82 of those over North Vietnam. On 27 December 1972, Desoto 03, piloted by Major Carl Jefcoat and Lt. Jack Trimble was hit by hostile fire of an unknown origin forcing the crew to bail out over North Vietnam. Several days later, they were confirmed as POWs. Lt. Trimble and Major Jefcoat were released on 29 March 1973 along with the fourth and last group of POWs to be released by the North Vietnamese. After a period of convalescent leave, Lt. Trimble will attend Squadron Officer's School at Maxwell AFB. From there, he will be going to pilot training at Williams AFB, Arizona. Hundreds of dark almond shaped eyes stared at me. Some showed pity, a few flickered with hatred, but most showed curiosity and awe. I wondered how my eyes must look to them. My face must have betrayed the helplessness and fear that I felt. I was the invader in this North Vietnamese village. A captured American pilot was an uncommon occurrence. The people kept their distance even though I was tightly bound and constantly watched by two armed guards. There were more villagers arriving. I watched the group grow in the waning twilight. This night was going to be a memorable one, I thought to myself. Six hours earlier this night did not mean any more to me than any other night at Udorn, RTAFB. However, a North Vietnamese pilot in a Mig-21 changed all that in the blink of an eye. I heard shooting in the area where my pilot had landed so I suspected that he had also been captured. I tried to hide until nightfall but a farmer and his wife found me, and shortly afterwards I was taken prisoner by twenty or thirty armed Vietnamese. I stood in the center of the village listening to the crowd grow louder. I sensed trouble brewing. I could feel the electric sensation that began to run through them. More and more of the faces looked angry. The children started throwing small pebbles at me. So this was it, I thought to myself. Maybe I was going to die soon at the hands of a Vietnamese mob. The thought of death was not new. I had learned to live with it during the nine months of combat. I never considered it as being reserved for the other guy. Each time that I flew to North Vietnam I was mentally prepared for something to happen to me. Now I was captured, but I did not feel that I was going to be killed. A young man stepped out in front of me and started shouting to the crowd. Their eyes narrowed and their tight lipped faces watched me. The man turned to me and sneered. Then he spit in my face. I didn't feel any anger or revulsion. I just stared back at him and then at the crowd. I was a prisoner of war and I did not expect to be treated with kindness. My antagonizer drew back his fist and smashed me across the left side of my jaw. I saw him start to swing and watched the blow come. When it reached my face, I jerked my head to the right and deflected most of the blow. He must have hit me harder than I thought because I could taste blood and my nose began to bleed. I looked back at the young man and watched his eyes. Much of the jittery feeling had left the crowd. Another blow fell, only this time it was much softer-almost as if he was not sure of himself. The crowd did not approve of my mistreatment and an older man stepped forward and physically stopped the younger man from striking me again. They argued briefly, and I think the young man lost much face by hitting me. The crowd parted and a boy came forward with a tin cup of very hot water. The guards untied my arms which by now were quite numb. The sun had set and the temperature was dropping. All I was wearing was my underwear. I wrapped my hands around the hot cup, sighed deeply, and began to shake and shiver in the night air. Later that night I was taken to the Hanoi Hilton where I was interrogated and placed in an empty cell. A lot of things happened in the following weeks and months. On the 29th of March 1973, I was released along with the last known group of American POW's in North Vietnam. That first night comes back to me often though. I wonder why those villagers did not mistreat me the way they had so many other captured pilots. Maybe their government had threatened them if any of us were injured. I prefer to believe that, even in the sophisticated, depersonalized warfare that characterized the conflict between our countries, a flicker of human compassion showed itself. I wonder if those villagers remember the American pilot who bowed oriental style in thanks when he was given hot tea to drink.
Jack Trimble retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He and his wife reside in Tennessee.
Jan 27 1998 Fernando Alexander has some nice things to say about a fellow POW: Dear Mac, This past week just got me to thinking. The end to the Madden testimonial reminded me of the little things done for one another might have been very meaningful to the recipient. I want to tell you of my experience while the preformer is still kicking. Jack Trimble is my hero. Jack was the sneakiest POW I knew. He used to visit other buildings in the Zoo carrying messages and getting news. He even snuck into the office of one of the prison administrators, retrieved some undelivered mail about two years old and delivered it to the rightful owner. Jack was our code man. He was one of the people that kept our morale up and sanity in tact. I pass this on in hope that it will be the first in a long series of accollades for the living to receive and know that their services were appreciated.