The following excerpt has been printed with the explicit permission of the authors and publisher of Bury Us Upside Down.
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Wars are painful experiences, not only for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who take part, but also for their families and the countries that send them. It has become all too common to focus exclusively on combat and the stories of those who fight, so it is often easy to forget war’s tragic effects—on the families of those involved and on the innocents—the citizens on both sides who also bear the burden. The Vietnam War, America’s longest and arguably most painful war, was a tragedy for two countries, theirs and ours.
Bury Us Upside Down is a unique book because it covers the full gamut of warfare—not only the stories of those at war, but of their families, their countries, their governments, and their politicians. In short, it is a well-researched book about warriors and the effects war has on a country. I have seen these effects of war on my family, on my nation, and ultimately on myself. Several of the men in this book were my companions in prison. Through their eyes you also will experience these effects.
Though I entered the theater earlier, my Vietnam story truly begins on October 26, 1967. In a few moments my life and future were inexorably altered as my aircraft was hit by a Soviet-made surface-to-air missile. While ejecting from the stricken aircraft, I broke both arms and a leg, and soon found myself surviving for over five years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison in downtown Hanoi.
It was during my years as a prisoner of war that I first encountered the “Misty” warriors featured in the following pages. Solitary confinement, denial of medical attention, and torture became the standard treatment for American POWs. As I endured this new way of life, I met Maj. Bob Craner. While I was in solitary confinement, Bob occupied the cell next to mine. We became acquainted through the tap code described later in the book. This clandestine means of communication, performed by tapping on the walls of our cells, enabled us to become acquainted. Although I could not hear his voice or see his face, he gave me encouragement in times of despair, and strength in times of weakness. I only hope I was able to provide him with some comfort through those hellish days.
During my confinement I learned of Maj. Bud Day, the first “Misty” commander, who was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while a POW. His story of survival, escape, recapture, and torture during a two-week escape attempt is without compare in excitement and intrigue. I also encountered Guy Gruters, shot down twice, the second time with Bob Craner. Guy’s story of desperately attempting to save the life of fellow warrior Lance Sijan—a Medal of Honor recipient and the namesake of Sijan Hall at the Air Force Academy—is heartbreaking. You will also read of P. K. Robinson. Although we met just before our return on the Freedom Flights, our short time together and shared experiences as fellow POWs will forever cause me to consider him a close brother and companion.
This wonderful book will introduce you to these and other “Misty” warriors—157 of them flying two-seat USAF F-100 fighters as “fast FACs,” forward air controllers, seeking out targets for bomb-dropping fighters over North Vietnam. It was an impossibly dangerous mission for which they paid the ultimate price. This book goes beyond the normal war story. It proves to be engaging and accessible to fighter pilot and civilian alike. You will be able to understand their story and the story of so many others who never returned home.
An extraordinary book that adds a critical volume to the literature about the Vietnam experience, Bury Us Upside Down serves to remind us of why war is such a serious endeavor. We would do well as a nation to heed the lessons and messages it contains. I would like to personally thank Don and Rick for their efforts in bringing this story to light and celebrating all the heroes from America’s longest war.
-- Senator John McCain