Name: Barry Burton Bridger
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force
Unit: 497th TFS
Date of Birth: 16 July 1940
Home City of Record: Bladenboro NC
Date of Loss: 23 January 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211000 North  1053700 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Missions: 53
Other Personnel in Incident: David Gray, 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. Updated 2016.
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
Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down: January 23, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973
Others in Incident: David Gray, returnee
On January 23, 1967 Barry and his co-pilot were flying on a mission over
North Vietnam when their F-4 Phantom Jet was hit by a surface to air
missile. The plane burst into flames and fell beneath the cloud layers. No
parachutes were seen nor were beeper signals heard, so Barry was carried in
a missing in action status. In early 1970 Hanoi acknowledged his presence
there. Barry's family received their first letter from him in May 1970.
Barry graduated from Sewannee Military Academy, Tennessee, in 1958, where he
lettered in four sports and received awards as the Most Valuable Football
Player and was voted one of the Most Outstanding Cadets in his senior year.
In 1962 he graduated from the University of North Carolina with the Bachelor
of Science Degree in Mathematics. In college he was a member of the Air
Force ROTC, and upon graduation was awarded his commission and went to
flight training.
Barry is five feet, nine inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. He has dark
hair, green eyes, and a fair complexion. The strong jawline and penetrating
eyes speak of the strength and determination of his personality, the broad
shoulders and muscular physique indicate the athlete who neither smoked nor
drank. His interests are many, but the greatest before his internment were
hunting, fishing, dog training (especially Labradors), guitar playing,
automobiles, motorcycles and girls. There is a serious side, too, a faith in
God instilled in him by his loving parents. From the time of landing in the
midst of 75 people, during the ride to Hanoi and during his first
interrogation session, he could feel that it might be a long ordeal and days
might be quite grim. Immediately he was put in straps with manacles around
his wrists. An 8 foot strap was then woven between and around his arms from
the wrists to the shoulders, pulling his arms together until his shoulders
came out of their sockets. He suffered through seven excruciating days of
straps, ropes, beatings, and handcuffs with no food, sleep or water - he
finally printed with his left hand (he is right handed) a bogus mission
statement and not the apology to the Vietnamese people that he was supposed
to write and sign. "They finally get you and then you write an innocuous
statement, one with as little meaning as possible." Beatings were at the
whim of the guards. They might choose an asinine reason, such as getting up
one night or walking across your room, to put you through hours of misery.
During his initial interrogation Barry was repeatedly beaten about. There
were two severe head injuries incurred when he was shot down, they were
ignored for seven days of inhuman treatment and then required 20 stitches to
close the wounds.
During the long years of captivity Barry developed a skill in gymnastics. In
a seven by eight foot room shared sometimes with other men, Barry practiced
his gymnastic maneuvers under the most adverse conditions. In the summer the
room was often like an oven, frequently dark with only a dim light dripping
through the cracks of the boarded window. For two reasons Barry turned to
gymnastics when it became apparent that to survive he would have to remain
physically and mentally fit, and secondly to fight boredom. By the time of
his release he had accomplished some great maneuvers - one hand stand on
either the right or left hand, fifty hand stand push ups, he even taught
himself to juggle. While his hands were manacled together for two months, he
found that one way to get control over his hands and wrists was to juggle.
He accomplished this feat in a dark cell. During the final days of his
captivity he taught gymnastics to his fellow prisoners.
Brotherhood was a basic principle among the POWs, said Bridger, and often
they carried it to extremes in their efforts to help one another. Each tried
to stay in the torture chambers as long as he could, so that others might
escape punishment. "We kept hoping the current program would fizzle before
they had gone halfway across the camp. It usually did. The North Vietnamese
have a hard time carrying out a plan without getting side-tracked."
"The Vietnamese are fanatics about Communism," Bridger explained. He gave
insights into their actions and statements: "To them, truth is that which
serves the revolution. And they regard life very cheaply. Take my first
interrogation for example; they said, "If we were as bad as the Koreans and
the Japanese we'd torture you. The next day they tortured me."
Now he is home, and he had these words to say at a celebration in his honor:
"Now I've come home with the satisfaction of knowing I served with honor. I
have been met by the most beautiful and considerate wave of humanity ever. I
accept the key to my home town on behalf of the sons of this community and
nation who though they were unable to stand in this place of honor with me
today will stand in her heart forever. Thanks for your love and the very
special way in which you have taken me into your heart and home. Seeing the
display of American flags has brought me the warmest thrill, an immeasurable
amount of pride - the quality I call Americanhood."
Barry Bridger retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Col. He and
his wife Sheila reside in Kansas.
University News
Former POW to speak of life lessons
by Marissa Ebeling
Chief Reporter
Posted March 2, 2005
....."Once you develop the proper attitude, mindset and heart you can do great
things," Deidra said. "My dad is the most amazing man I know."


Former POW to talk in Carlisle about experiences at Hanoi Hilton

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 4:18 PM
For the cost of donating one canned food item to Project Share, you can hear the story of a man who survived six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnamís Hanoi Hilton. Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Barry Bridger will speak at the Carlisle Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27......
Newnan Times-Herald
John J. Allen Jr. pay their respects duirng a POW/MIA Ceremony at Langley Air Force Base in 2014. Bridger will speak at the Freedom Celebration at ...