Vietnam veteran reflects on time spent as prisoner of war

A veteran from Manalapan became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict nearly 50 years ago.

News 12 Staff

Nov 9, 2021, 10:48 PM

Updated 983 days ago


A veteran from Manalapan became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict nearly 50 years ago. David Drummond flew B-52 bombers during the war, but then an enemy missile blew his plane apart.
“I carried [the New Jersey] flag with me on every mission that I did in Vietnam,” Drummond says. “Except the night I was shot down."
Drummond says that he forgot his flag that time, and his luck ran out.
“I’m a kid from Jersey. Why am I hanging in this parachute over North Vietnam?” he says.
Drummond was about to face the ordeal of his life as a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
“I don’t begrudge their attitude. I’m killing their people,” he says.
Violence, hunger and isolation all followed.
Drummond kept some mementos from his time at the prison such as a wash cloth, towel and uniform.
“The fact that I didn’t know when it was going to end, the indeterminate nature of it was highly stressful,” he says.
Drummond says that he did not believe that he would be killed in the prison. He was finally released after 98 days. A peace deal was signed.
“I didn’t sleep for three days. I was just so wired. I was so pumped up,” he says.
But even after he was rescued, Drummond says that the ordeal wasn’t over.
“I’ve come to the point where I realized that if I allow the PTSD, the regrets or whatever to get ahold of me, my life isn’t going forward,” he says.
Since that time, he has helped to create the Manalapan Veterans Memorial. He also works to make sure cremains of veterans are properly buried.
Because of his experience, he is tightly aligned with POW and MIA programs to make sure everyone returns home.
“It’s a basic tenant when you go into the military. Every veteran or military member is your brother or sister, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they’re taken care of,” Drummond says.
Drummond has never returned to Hanoi, but a trip is planned in 2023 – the 50th anniversary of his captivity.

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