MULLIGAN, JAMES ALFRED
|Name: James Alfred Mulligan
Rank/Branch: O5/United States Navy, pilot
Unit: VA 36
Date of Birth: 27 March 1926
Home City of Record: Lawrence MA
Date of Loss: 20 March 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 182800 North 105000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
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. 2017
REMARKS: 730212 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
UPDATE - 02/97 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO with information provided
by Capt. Mulligan.
JAMES A. MULLIGAN JR.
Captain - United States Navy
Shot Down: March 20, 1966
Released: February 12, 1973
Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts 27 March 1926. Joined the Navy 9 February
1944 as part of the V-5 program. Received my wings in August 1947. Married
Louise M. Kolce in October 1948 and we have six sons and live in Virginia
Beach, Virginia. I was Executive Officer of VA-36 on board USS Enterprise
and scheduled to become Commanding Officer on 1 April 1966 but I was shot
down near Vinh in North Vietnam on 20 March 1966. I had flown more than 80
missions over North Vietnam when my A4 was shot down. I was injured on
ejection, receiving a broken shoulder and cracked ribs.
My prison itinerary was as follows: Hanoi Hilton (Heartbreak Hotel and New
Guy Village) from 27 March to 23 April 1966; the Zoo from 23 April 1966 to
26 January 1967; Las Vegas from 26 January 1967 to 25 October 1967; Alcatraz
from 25 October 1967 to 9 December 1969; Las Vegas from 9 December 1969 to
25 December 1970; Camp Unity (or "No OK Corral") 25 December 1970 to 12
February 1973. I was in solitary confinement for 42 3/4 months. I spent
more than 30 month sin leg irons.
I was the senior officer on the 3rd plane out of Hanoi in the first release
on February 12, 1973. I was lucky enough to be the 1st POW cleared for
release from Clark Air Force Base to the States on February 14, 1973. I was
awarded 2 Silver Stars, 8 Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and 2
Purple Hearts, as well as the POW medal.
After captivity I earned my MBA degree in Public Administration. In 1975
after 31 1/2 years of service, I retired from the United States Navy as a
Captain. I have since retired from the position as CEO of a large
wholesaler/distributor of marble, slate and granite.
James and his wife Louise have 6 sons, (Jim, Kevin, Terry, Mark, Sean and
Niel) and 17 grandchildren. James had a personal note on his update -- "I
share 6 POW grandchildren with Sam Johnson via his daughter Gini and my son
Jim." He and his wife reside in Virginia.
To my friends and family,
The most amazing thing arrived in my mailbox this morning...
As most of you know, I spent my early childhood years in the Philippines
(until I was 7), as my father was a civil engineer for the Department of
Defense at Clark Air Force Base.
The Vietnam War was going on but, as such a young, care free little girl, I
didn't really understand what all that meant. All I knew was that we lived
in a different country for a while. And my child's mind also concluded that
America must be so crowded that EVERYONE had to take turns living in other
countries for a while, and this was just our turn.
One day, my mom gave my sister and me each a special bracelet. It was
silver with some writing on it. My mom explained to us that it was from the
Red Cross and that each bracelet held the name of a Prisoner of War and that
we needed to pray for our P.O.W. each and every day.
My bracelet simply read:
CAPT. JAMES MULLIGAN
3-20-66 (his date of capture)
So I wore the bracelet everyday and I prayed for him everyday.
It turns out the bracelet was not a silver trinket from Tiffany's but a
cheap type of metal that my mom insisted I take off at bath time. Because
my wrist was so small, and the cheap metal didn't take too well to being
bent and un-bent, it eventually broke in half.
Again, my child's mind concluded (with some encouragement from my older and
obviously more knowledgeable sister), that something terrible had happened
to my P.O.W. I was devastated! Then, as it turns out - that same exact day
that my bracelet broke was the day we received word that they were releasing
We were told that they were coming first to Clark AFB before returning to
the States. Capt. James Mulligan arrived on February 12th, 1973, on the
third plane. When the plane arrived, since he was the senior officer on
board, he was the first off the plane and the first to speak. Not just to
those waiting at Clark, but via satellite to TV's, he was the first to speak
to the world!
Part of my father's responsibilities at the Base for this specific event was
to make sure there was power from the airfield to CBS for broadcasting.
There really weren't supposed to be other people there, but since my dad was
working, he called my mom and told her how to come in a back way - so she
was there, too.
My sister and I were watching TV at home. There weren't but a handful of TV
stations, so I'm sure whatever cartoon we were watching was interrupted by
this "Special Report", but we watched, and I do vividly remember watching
him walk down the steps from the plane and seeing a small crowd of people.
I was thrilled to see "MY POW" on TV and to hear him talk! I was also so
happy that the breaking of my bracelet had not caused him harm.
At the time, I was 6 years old and in the 1st grade. The next day, I was to
take Valentine's to the kids in my class, so I asked my mom if I could make
a special Valentine for him and send it to him. She agreed, so I gathered
up my high tech art supplies: construction paper, crayons, Elmer's glue,
and went to work. I wanted it to look perfect, so I kept asking my mom how
to spell certain words. She told me he would appreciate it more if I did it
myself. So, I wrote:
Dear Capt. Mulligan, (my mom did tell me how to spell his name)
This is Stefani. I am in the frst grade.
You were on my POW braccillitt.
Butt it brocce. Im gld yur bakk.
(To ensure accuracy, I consulted with my mom and she remembered this
specific Valentine - misspellings and all!)
My mother went to the hospital to deliver my Valentine and was told they
weren't sure if they were allowing the released prisoners to receive any
mail. (Note: for those of you who know me - you'll realize this is where I
get my persistence and stubbornness - from my mother!) She persisted that
these men were just released from years of imprisonment and are finally on
"American Soil" (a.k.a. AFB) and they should be able to make up their own
mind if they want to receive mail or not!
She didn't make headway with that officer but found another - the Base
Sergeant no less - who assured her he would see to it that my Valentine was
delivered. (Note: add sneaky to above list!)
The next day a corpsman showed up at our door and our maid, Assenta, thought
he was returning my letter, which infuriated my mother. At some point the
poor guy was able to make her hear he was not returning a letter, but
delivering a letter: "Special Delivery to Miss Stefani Craig from Capt.
She immediately brought it in to me as I was brushing my teeth and excitedly
told me I had a special delivery! I had not yet achieved the skill of
multi-tasking, so I told her to just set it down until I was finished.
Irritated, I'm sure, she explained to me that this man, who had written a
letter to me, had been in prison longer than I had been alive! Apparently
impressed with that fact, I asked her to open the letter and read it to me.
It was written on a small sheet of American National Red Cross stationery.
it read, in his own hand writing:
Feb 13th, 1973
Dear Stefani Craig
I am very happy to be your valentine. I want to thank you and all the other
girls and boys for the wonderful reception that you have given us former
We see all your decorations and your valentines and it makes us all happy to
know that you all care so much about us. You are all fine Americans and it
has been our privilege to serve our country's cause for you. I will always
remember these days at Clark AFB; you and your parents are all wonderful
Americans and we POW's love you all.
Thanks to you all, children, parents, teachers, for these wonderful days of
God Bless you.
James A. Mulligan
Captain U.S. Navy
I know this is what the letter read because my parents had it framed along
with my broken bracelet and it hangs proudly in my home and is counted among
one of my most prized possessions.
Over the years, I have told this story many times and wondered about my
Capt. I've tried several times to locate him, with no success. I tried
again a month or so ago, through the POW/MIA website (www.powmia.com). This
time I decided to explain "why" I was trying to locate him. So, I briefly
told the story, and requested that they forward it to him, or to anyone who
TODAY (3/24/07), I stopped to check my mail at the Post Office and, although
I was in a hurry on my way to a seminar, I had to see who had sent me a
package (they leave a blue slip for packages that are too large to fit in
the box). When the postal worker handed me the package, I could not believe
my eyes. The return address read, Capt. James Mulligan of Virginia Beach.
I ripped it open right then and there. The package contained a book he has
written entitled, "The Hanoi Commitment".
I opened the front cover and found two inscriptions.
The first reads:
I received your inquiry about my whereabouts today - 2-12-07. This is the
exact anniversary of my release in Hanoi and then arrival at Clark AFB some
thirty-four years. Thanks for wearing my bracelet and for remembering it
all these years.
Much Happiness and God Bless!
Captain US Navy retired
NAM POW 3-20-66 to 2-12-73
The next page, above the printed dedication he wrote:
To: Stefani Craig
Freedom is our most precious possession!
Faith is our most precious gift!
When I sat down to write this e-mail, my intention was to share what I
thought was an incredible little story (and not so lengthy!). In the
writing, I have realized it's importance and purpose. However, I do not
possess the skills or wisdom to sum it up, so I will use Capt. Mulligan's
words - the Epilogue on the last page of the book he sent me:
Forty-two months in solitary confinement gave me time to think and assess my
place in life. Some lessons I learned are:
1. With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:20
2. Permissiveness is the corruption of Freedom.
3. Anarchy is the corruption of Democracy.
4. Immorality is the corruption of Morality.
A free democratic moral society has the right as well as the obligation to
resist the incursions of those perversions which would lead to its
A free society requires order, discipline and moderation. Thus it follows
that rights and freedoms demand corresponding duties and obligations from
Man is an imperfect creature living in an imperfect world but he should
always strive to be better than he is. In this struggle he should never,
never, never, give up!
Share this, or delete this, I don't care. All I ask is that you give pause
for thought and send a prayer to all of our troops - past and current.
This is the story of my Personal P.O.W. My Captain.
Thanks for taking the time to read through!
San Diego, CA 92166