Take me back to the Oral History landing page.


Gary Sigler - Vietnam War

Gary Sigler was serving as a navigator/co-pilot on an RF-4 (Reconnaissance) Phantom flying his ninety-second mission in April 1967 when his plane crashed near Hanoi, North Vietnam. (The pilot had taken evasive actions to avoid a surface-to-air missile.) He spent the next six years as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton, surviving torture, brutal interrogation and many months of solitary confinement. As the years progressed, the prisoners were occasionally visited by outsiders, mostly by individuals or groups who were opposed to the war. In March 1973, following the Paris Peace Accords Sigler was released. Not until 2000 did he experience any symptoms of PTSD.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Rope Trick

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life, college years and flight training in an F-4R Phantom

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Combat missions on an RF-4 reconnaissance aircraft over N. Vietnam

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Capture and experiences as a POW at Hanoi Hilton

Interview Session 04 (Audio)

Photos

Caption

High schoolers Gary Sigler with his best friend, Jim Ziegler at Gary’s parents’ house while they were in high school in the early 1960s.

Where:

Parents house

When:

1960s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Gary and his dog Zac with his pride and joy, a 1961 Thunderbird in front of his home in Lubbock, Texas in June 1965.

Where:

Lubbock, Texas

When:

June 1965

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Gary is wearing his dress uniform for his wedding to Pam Harris in Table Grove, Illinois in January 1965.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

1965

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Gary and Pam on their wedding day on January 10, 1965 at the Community Church in Table Grove, Illinois. Pam’s parents, James and Celia Harris, are on the left and Gary’s mother Wava is on the right.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

January 10, 1965

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

2nd Lieutenant Sigler relaxes following his graduation from pilot training at Reese Air Force in Lubbock, Texas in late 1965.

Where:

Lubbock, Texas

When:

late 1965

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Gary and Pam at the South Plains Fair while they lived in Lubbock, Texas in 1965.

Where:

Lubbock, Texas

When:

1965

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Pam with her parents, and sisters Jamell and Connie, next to Gary’s pale blue Thunderbird while he was stationed in Lubbock, Texas in the summer of 1965.

Where:

Lubbock, Texas

When:

1965

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Gary stands next to a T-38 trainer during pilot training in late 1965 while at Reese Air Force Base. “Grandma Moses pulls more G’s painting than I do in close trail,” recalls Gary.

Where:

Reese Air Force Base

When:

late 1965

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Gary’s parents Richard and Wava Sigler with Pam and Gary while Gary was taking pilot training during Christmas 1965 on Reese Air Force Base, Texas.

Where:

Reese Air Force Base, Texas

When:

1965

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Gary relaxes in his hootch while stationed at the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in late 1966.

Where:

Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand

When:

1966

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Gary relaxes while on R and R in Bangkok, Thailand in early 1967.

Where:

Bangkok, Thailand

When:

1967

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

RF-4 aircraft with Major Stephensen and Lieutenant Sigler while on a mission headed toward North Vietnam in early 1967.

Where:

North Vietnam

When:

1967

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Lieutenant Sigler and his pilot, Major Mark Stephensen on the flight line at Udorn Air Base before a rare daytime mission sometime in early 1967.

Where:

Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand

When:

1967

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Lt Sigler stands next to the RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft at Udorn Air Base in 1967. Note the nose art. This was the same aircraft which crashed while avoiding a surface to air missile.

Where:

Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand

When:

1967

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

This photo of an American POW which appeared on the cover of Life Magazine on October 27, 1967 did not show him giving the photographer (and his captives) the finger.

Where:

Unknown

When:

October 27, 1967

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Christmas in the Hanoi Hilton during a period when the POW’s treatment was improving. Gary is in the left of the photo in a dark shirt. The photo, which appeared in Life Magazine, helped validate that he was alive.

Where:

Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam

When:

1967

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Pam, Becky and Zack (dog) in Pam’s parents’ house in Table Grove, Illinois during Christmas 1970.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

1970

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Gary Sigler is second from the right, during a visit by a Japanese delegation in Hanoi in 1970 in the camp’s ‘Zoo’. The photo later appeared in Life Magazine. From left to right are Reed McCleary, Richard ‘Pop’ Keirn, Gary and Art Cormier.

Where:

Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam

When:

1970

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Gary is seated in the background from this photo taken by the Japanese during their visit to the Hanoi Hilton in 1970. The prisoner in the foreground in the light t-shirt is Captain John Borling, whose interview is also part of the ALPL collection.

Where:

Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam

When:

1970

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Pam (on the right) and Becky attending one of many Illinois horse shows for a lead line event (where contestants dress alike) circa 1971 while Gary was a POW.

Where:

Illinois

When:

circa 1971

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Hollywood actress Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam in July 1972. Gary Sigler was not one of the prisoners who she saw during her “fact finding” visit, but he was angered by her visit none-the-less.

Where:

North Vietnam

When:

July 1972

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Captain Gary Sigler (newly promoted) and other POWs landed in Hawaii to refuel enroute from the Philippines before flying to Scott Air Force Base in March 1973.

Where:

Hawaii

When:

March 1973

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Gary and Pam sent this card to all those who wrote to them after his release in 1973 to thank them. The photo was taken at Scott Air Force Base.

Where:

Scott Air Force Base.

When:

1973

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

This photo of Gary’s parents, Richard and Wava Sigler, appeared in an article in the Denver Post after Gary’s release in March 1975.

Where:

Denver, Colorado

When:

March 1975

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

An aerial photo of the Hanoi Hilton, taken some time after the Vietnam War.

Where:

Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Photo of Gary from an article about the house he designed while a POW. “Generally, I’d start with an idea, maybe a room I liked, and build around it,” Gary said of his mental house building during his captivity.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The house near Table Grove, Illinois that Gary designed while in solitary confinement during his time at the Hanoi Hilton. The house was built in 1976-77. This photo appeared in the April 1979 edition of Airman Magazine.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

April 1979

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The Siglers - Pam, Becky, Zachary Mark, and Gary discuss family matters after breakfast. The photo appeared in the April 1979 edition of Airman Magazine.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

April 1979

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

“The massive stone fireplace in the Sigler home spreads warmth and cheer throughout the family living area. Solid cedar beams and fir planking compliment the striking beauty of the wide chimney,” read the article from Airman Magazine in April 1979.

Where:

Table Grove, Illinois

When:

April 1979

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Gary appears at one of his many speaking engagements talking about his POW experiences, this one to a Rotary International group in Missouri in the late 1980s.

Where:

Missouri

When:

late 1980s

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Pam posed with her granddaughter Libby, who is riding Pam’s horse, Good to the Max, at the Richland Ranch in Auburn, Illinois, circa 2000.

Where:

Auburn, Illinois

When:

circa 2000

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo

Caption

Gary spoke to the Rotary Club in Paduca, Kentucky about his POW experiences in 2016.

Where:

Paduca, Kentucky

When:

2016

Ownership:

Narrator's Photo



Social Links