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Extraordinary Fidelity: Two CIA Prisoners in China, 195273
CIA ^ | Nicholas Dujmovic

Posted on 04/14/2007 7:50:43 AM PDT by Valin

This article draws extensively on operational files and other internal CIA records that of necessity remain classified. Because the true story of these two CIA officers is compelling and has been distorted in many public accounts, it is retold here in as much detail as possible, despite minimal source citations. Whenever possible, references to open sources are made in the footnotes.

* * *

Beijing’s capture, imprisonment, and eventual release of CIA officers John T. Downey and Richard G. Fecteau is an amazing story that too few know about today. Shot down over Communist China on their first operational mission in 1952, these young men spent the next two decades imprisoned, often in solitary confinement, while their government officially denied they were CIA officers. Fecteau was released in 1971, Downey in 1973. They came home to an America vastly different from the place they had left, but both adjusted surprisingly well and continue to live full lives.

Even though Downey and Fecteau were welcomed back as heroes by the CIA family more than 30 years ago and their story has been covered in open literature—albeit in short and generally flawed accounts— institutional memory regarding these brave officers has dimmed.[1] Their ordeal is not well known among today’s officers, judging by the surprise and wonder CIA historians encounter when relating it in internal lectures and training courses.

This story is important as a part of US intelligence history because it demonstrates the risks of operations (and the consequences of operational error), the qualities of character necessary to endure hardship, and the potential damage to reputations through the persistence of false stories about past events. Above all, the saga of John Downey and Richard Fecteau is about remarkable faithfulness, shown not only by the men who were deprived of their freedom, but also by an Agency that never gave up hope. While it was through operational misjudgments that these two spent much of their adulthood in Chinese prisons, the Agency, at least in part, redeemed itself through its later care for the men from whom years had been stolen......

(Click on Source for the rest of the article)


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: china; cia

1 posted on 04/14/2007 7:50:45 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin

Incredible American patriots!

I’m just glad their Chinese captors didn’t call them Mr. Bean. :-)


2 posted on 04/14/2007 8:14:06 AM PDT by CCGuy (USAF (Ret.))
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To: Valin

British sailors they were not. Great story, thanks for posting!


3 posted on 04/14/2007 8:14:57 AM PDT by Kitten Festival
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To: Valin

What an extraordinary story.


4 posted on 04/14/2007 8:20:03 AM PDT by Bahbah (Regev, Goldwasser & Shalit, we are praying for you.)
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To: Valin

I read every word.....it all boils down to the last paragraph and esp its last sentence:

John Downey, 22 when he began his captivity and almost 43 when released, is now 76. Richard Fecteau, 25 when shot down and 44 on his return, will be 80 next August. Their story, and the lessons we derive from it, will long outlive them. Their experience in China teaches many things: the importance of good decisions in the field and the costs of bad ones; the ability of men to say “it’s not over” when life seems to be at an end; the resilience to get through a bad day—7,000 times in a row; and the strength gained from faith that one is still cared about. But their experience back home is also inspirational, for it teaches us that perhaps the most enduring lesson of all is the absolute necessity of making every day lived in freedom count.


5 posted on 04/14/2007 8:20:07 AM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: Valin

Thank you for posting this inspiring article.

jm


6 posted on 04/14/2007 8:31:13 AM PDT by JockoManning (CHRIST IS RISEN, THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!)
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To: Valin

What a story! Thanks for posting!


7 posted on 04/14/2007 8:52:16 AM PDT by beltfed308 (Rudy: When you absolutely,positively need a liberal for President.)
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To: Valin

bttt


8 posted on 04/14/2007 8:57:48 AM PDT by xone
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To: Vn_survivor_67-68; Valin
Two real heroes. I also read every word, including the first footnote:

It's a shame that the CIA or any of the series of administrations in office throughout the captivity could not have just sucked it up, lost some face, and admitted something closer to the truth instead of sticking to that moronic commercial flight cover story. It sounds like these two men might have been released with the captured B29 crew in 1955 if the CIA had greater integrity. Similar honesty helped secured the release of Francis Gary Powers from the Soviets during this same period. These men deserved better from their superiors.

9 posted on 04/14/2007 9:26:01 AM PDT by Ronaldus Magnus
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To: everyone

Outstanding men.


10 posted on 04/14/2007 3:49:48 PM PDT by California Patriot ("That's not Charley the Tuna out there. It's Jaws." -- Richard Nixon)
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To: Valin; dighton; All

I just read this and planned to post it ... until I saw you had done the same.

A great tale about two terrific men.


11 posted on 04/15/2007 9:20:18 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: aculeus; Valin; BlueLancer; Billthedrill; AnAmericanMother; SandRat; All

Bump for a highly deserving post.


12 posted on 04/15/2007 12:06:18 PM PDT by dighton
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To: Peanut Gallery

ping


13 posted on 04/15/2007 12:08:22 PM PDT by Professional Engineer ("Daddy fix it. With a hammer.")
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To: dighton

BTTT


14 posted on 04/15/2007 5:26:54 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Valin

Great story, was just about to post it myself until I saw you’d beaten me to it.


15 posted on 05/03/2007 10:16:45 PM PDT by amchugh (large and largely disgruntled)
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To: amchugh

Great story, was just about to post it myself until I saw you’d beaten me to it.

Please feel free. It’s been awhile and I’m sure others would like to see it.


16 posted on 05/03/2007 10:21:28 PM PDT by Valin (History takes time. It is not an instant thing.)
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