Junior Grade Dieter Dengler,
USN, was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. He was one of the two survivors out of seven, to escape from a Pathet Lao prison
camp in Laos and was rescued after 23 days on the run. Dieter Dengler enlisted in the United States Air
Force in 1957. After his discharge, he attended college and entered the US Navy Aviation Cadet Program.
After flight training, he joined the USS Ranger and eventually found himself at Yankee Station.
According to the Arlington National Cemetery Website, “On
February 1, 1966, U.S. Navy Lt. Dieter Dengler launched from the aircraft carrier USS RANGER in an A1H Skyraider as part of
a four-aircraft interdiction mission near the border of Laos. Dieter was the last man to roll in on a target when he was observed
by the pilot of one of the other aircraft to start a normal recover. Due to limited visibility, the flight lost sight of him.
The other aircraft in the flight could not determine what had happened. They only kne Dengler disappeared. Dengler later stated
that ground fire had severely damaged his aircraft, and he was forced to crash land in Laos.
Dengler had successfully evaded
capture through that night, and later said that he even saw the rescue aircraft as they searched for him. He had tried without
success to raise them on his emergency radio. Dengler was finally captured by Pathet Lao troops, who tortured him as they
force-marched him through several villages. Eight days later, Dengler escaped, but was recaptured within a short time. Ultimately,
Dengler found himself in a camp in Laos held with other American POWs.”
On June 29th, 1996, Dieter Dengler, and others, escaped. Dieter Dengler
spent 22 days wandering the jungle until he was rescued. Dieter Dengler spent one more year in the Navy
and then had a career flying commercial aircraft. Dieter Dengler passed away in 2001. He
chronicled his capture, imprisonment and escape in Escape from Laos.