The missile ripped the left wing off of Red McDaniel’s A-6 Intruder. He waited for his navigator to punch out first and then he followed — but as he dropped into a Vietnamese jungle, his parachute became tangled in a tree. When a branch broke, Red fell 40 feet to the ground, crushing two vertebrae.
Red experienced all of this in three minutes. His wife, Dorothy, would wait three years to know whether he was dead or alive.
Red first met Dorothy in 1950 on the front steps of First Baptist Church in Buies Creek, N.C. They dated for six years and then married. As a Navy pilot, Red flew 81 missions in nine months over Vietnam before being shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese in May 1967.
At that time the McDaniels had a 4-year-old daughter and two boys, ages 9 and 7. The boys were crushed when they learned their dad had been captured. The Navy assured them that he would be rescued soon, but he wasn’t. He endured six years of brutal torture at the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
[Read the rest of the article at WorldMag.com.]