Men who piloted the hottest fighter planes in the world found themselves suddenly transformed from hotshots to humiliated prisoners during the Vietnam War. The story of how American prisoners survived in North Vietnam's no... more »torious prison camps is dramatically told in this documentary, an installment of the American Experience series on PBS. The men, who survived appalling treatment, relate their experiences, and vintage footage, including propaganda films shot by their captors, portrays what they endured. A former POW describes how he was coached before being put on public display, yet he spelled out the word "torture" in Morse code by blinking his eyes, a defiant action that can clearly be seen in footage that the North Vietnamese provided to the world's media. Another former prisoner, who somehow survived massive injuries despite being denied medical care, describes how he had to lie on the concrete floor of his cell for nearly a year, just trying to get his arms and legs to function again. These inspirational stories lead up to an emotional climax as the prisoners, including Arizona Senator John McCain, describe what it was like to be freed after their long captivity. This is a deeply moving and inspiring story told by men who overcame great depths of human suffering. --Robert J. McNamara« less
"The definitive documentary about life inside the notoriously brutal POW camps of North Vietnam - told by the American servicemen who lived it. Extraordinary historical footage combined with the reflections of the men some 25 years later makes this a compelling film. You will be inspired by their courage, touched by their humanity and confessions of weakness and fear, and then re-inspired by their enduring loyalty to each other. Kept in solitary, tortured, and forbidden to communicate with each other, it is a wonder they survived. Amazingly you learn how they did develop ways to cope and communicate, such as by using a "tap code" on the walls to communicate with men in adjoining cells. As one ex-prisoner puts it, some nights we had the Hanoi Hilton "sounding like a den of runaway woodpeckers." This remark is typical of the reflections you hear from the ex-prisoners. The men are never bitter, despite the fact they've been through a living hell. They are never pedantic and anxious to tell what great life lessons they've learned from the experience. They simply tell their story. Their wit and humor keeps Return With Honor from ever becoming akin to a depressing war move. Regardless of political opinion about the Vietnam conflict, almost every viewer will come away with an admiration for these Air Force and Navy officers who scarified so much in service to their country."
An exceptionally good documentary....
Kyle Tolle | Phoenix, Arizona USA | 05/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In what is probably the most revealing documentary ever created on ex-POW's from Vietnam, Return With Honor is an outstanding testament to absolute courage, honor, bravery, camaraderie, and survival.Individual interviews woven with footage from United States and Vietnamese archives paint a very vivid and oftentimes emotional picture of the brutal experience suffered by our U.S. servicemen held captive in Hanoi.Leaving very little to the imagination, this documentary explores the many facets of captivity to include barbaric torture, communication processes between prisoners, coping with solitary confinement, demoralizing loneliness, and inhuman living conditions. Additional interviews with the spouses of POW's reveal their pain and emotion they dealt with on the home front while not knowing the fates of their husbands.Finishing off with their triumphant return home, it is truly inspirational and heartwarming to see the footage of these heroic men reunited with their families.This DVD itself has superb sound and video qualities and offers good additional features such as 26 biographies of POW's and interviews with the producers on the making of Return With Honor.This documentary comes very highly recommended to everyone and leaves you with a resounding message of patriotism and a deep respect for America and her U.S. servicemen."
Serving with an Honorable Man
Panther sends | Hanoi, Vietnam | 08/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am definitely a priviledged service member. I work at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. I serve with Pete Peterson, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. Having walked through the doors of Hoa Lo Prison and viewed what is left of the infamous compound, I must say that the video truly puts into perspective the trials and tribulations of what those servicemembers went through. I have read the propaganda under photos of my Ambassador and of Everett Alvarez commenting of their humane treatment. The video gives some insight into how those activities came about. After viewing this documentary, I must say that we should all be proud of the ones who stand on that wall because all of us won't have the opportunity and those of us who will may not respond the same as these men did. I am honored to serve with just one of them! I am a privledged Marine who is living in one of the most famous landmarks in Marine history. This video is outstanding! Anyone who is interested in the history should view this video and I am here to tell you that it is the closest you can get to walking through that dark archway and feeling those walls and shackles. It is a must see for all veterans and civilians alike. I am appreciative of their sacrifices and praise their will to survive."
An amazing film!
Michael T. Bennett | USA | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie does an excellent job at telling the story of the brutality the American prisoners suffered in the hands of the North Vietnamese during their captivity in the Vietnam War. The interviews of many of the more well-known prisoners is a great first hand account of their daily lives, and the actual footage and photos shown of them is very interesting. This is a very very well-made film and I think it's great for anyone interested in the topic, or anyone who has not known much about it. The Americans there made huge sacrifices and faced death. They truly deserve the highest honor for their struggle, and this film is a testament to that."
Perhaps the best television I've ever seen...
John Joyce | Chicago, IL United States | 02/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This piece is incredible. I caught it on PBS during one Memorial Day weekend a few years ago and was spellbound. I taped it onto VHS and watch it several times a year. It is an incredibly powerful documentary--the best television I've ever seen (thank goodness it's on DVD now as well)."