Skip to comments.The Incredibly Stupid One at the Hanoi Hilton
Posted on 04/06/2014 1:17:50 PM PDT by Twotone
It was a warmer than usual summer day in Clark, South Dakota when a rather large and ungainly young man, a recent high school graduate, set about finding his way in the world. The salivating Navy recruiter asked the youngster what it would take to have him sign up: why, Id like to go to Australia. It was as good as done. After all, in 1966, if you were lucky enough to ship out on the USS Canberra, more likely than not, during the course of your hitch, there will be a port call to the ships namesake Canberra, Australia.
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Great story. I heard about him in training.
But I don’t understand that if he had a watch at 0100 why did he not get up until 0300?
Speaking of training, I never could get those darn dungarees to work. Hell, I couldn’t even get the legs tied.
He is a real hero.
I did not want the story to end will look for more of it online It is a incredible story
God Bless Douglas Hegdahl
“Speaking of training, I never could get those darn dungarees to work. Hell, I couldnt even get the legs tied.”
I remember jumping off the tower in training and when I hit the water my dungarees were gone! I had to swim to the bottom of the pool to retrieve them so I could make a ‘flotation device’ out of them.
I think that tower was 40 feet high. I remember thinking “Why haven’t I hit the water yet?” So, I looked down and BAM! Right in the face. Water is hard.
Thank you for your service.
That was my first thought as well.
One thing. .ive been to Canberra. .its inland and not on the sea..so no port to visit...
He was one of my Instructors at SERE School ... could still recite names and ID numbers of every Prisoner
He stayed after Graduation and would speak with anyone about anything ... last one out of the Classroom.
He was instrumental in the entire SERE School Program.
Back to Lurk
Here’s another story I’ve heard about him..perhaps you can tell me if it’s true: during his “sweeping and skipping” (and truck disabling) excursions around the compound, Hegdahl would occasionally “duck” as if an imaginary bat or bird was swooping down on him, if he saw one of the guards watching.
That bit of behavior helped reinforce the notion (among the North Vietnamese) that Hegdahl was of no value and possibly mentally ill. Most of the guards believed that mental illness was contagious, so they gave him a wide berth. That allowed him to gather more information, which he provided after being released.
Hegdahl is a legend in the SERE community and among those of us who went through the various training programs. It’s a shame that, even today, his story is almost unknown among the ranks of former POWs and those affiliated with SERE training.
Thanks for posting!
Whenever we would have “Abandon Ship Drills”, the 1MC would announce something like, “Nearest friendly land bearing 235, 350 miles”.
Which immediately reminded me of Bill Cosby.
“Ding, Noah! How long can YOU tread water?”
I saw him at SERE as well. He was not one of my class instructors, but he did recite the names for us. That was in July, 1983
I’ve read about this guy.A young sailor,a junior enlisted man,at the Hanoi Hilton with Navy and Air Force officers who had been shot down.He had to be *ordered* to accept early release.Certainly a hero in my book.
Capt Stratton lives here at Fleet Landing. I arrived in Dec and have not met him yet. Nice to know he has been writing about his POW years.
Thanks for posting. I had never heard this story before.
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