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INTERVIEW: BOB DOERR ON JACK VAN LOAN



Jack Van Loan was a prisoner of war who was held in the same prison where John McCain was held. After Van Loan passed away, Jack’s family, along with a friend of his, contacted Bob Doerr of Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) and asked for help in getting Jack’s draft manuscript cleaned up and published. Doerr took on the challenge.


Here’s what Doerr said about Van Loan and the book:


Van Loan occasionally saw the Admiral and learned the stories from others. After Jack

returned he was at a large dinner and by chance sat at the table where the Chief of

Naval Operations also sat. He told the CNO that he thought Stockdale deserved the

MOH for how Stockdale’s resistance and behavior under torture was such an inspiration

for the other POWs. Later the CNOs office contacted Jack and put it all in writing.

Jack was flying in an F-4 over N Vietnam supporting a flight of F105s on a mission to

bomb a military target. The group of F-4s and 105s were attacked by a swarm of Migs.

One of the enemy Migs shot his F-4 down. After his parachute safely got him to the

ground, he was captured.


I can’t single out one or two things that were more inspiring than others. Too many.

Jack and the other prisoners did not get to move around and mingle with each other

until late in their captivity. For the first couple years, he only saw a handful of other

prisoners. Towards the end they were put in larger groups, but he never had any real

contact with McCain.


I was the editor, but I got help from a handful of others. Joyce Faulkner designed the cover.


Up until Ho Chi Minh’s death, it was common for the guards to viciously torture the

prisoners. Following Ho’s death most of the vicious torture stopped. That may be why

those captured after Ho’s death had different accounts of life as a POW.



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