Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Ron Mastin | 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron - Air Force

6:23   |   Ron Mastin had been a POW for a year and his captors were constantly moving him around. His family didn't even know he was alive until the release of Doug Hegdahl, who had memorized hundreds of names of prisoners. He never gave up hope, never once thought he might not go home. He even found his crew mate, Tom Storey, with whom he'd been shot down in 1968.

More From Ron Mastin

Keywords   :     Ron Mastin    Vietnam    Prisoner Of War (POW)    Hanoi Hilton    Fred Flom    Hugh Buchanan    tap code    Doug Hegdahl    Missing In Action (MIA)    moon landing    Tom Storey

Videos ( 6 )
  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  2:52

    Ron Mastin took an ROTC commission out of college and went to flight school where he really took to it. His first assignment was in the back seat of an F-4 Phantom fitted for reconnaissance. He served a tour at an RAF base in England, then he was sent to Thailand to fly reconnaissance missions over Southeast Asia.

  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  5:49

    Flying in a reconnaissance jet over North Vietnam, Ron Mastin was never aware of ground fire until the day he was shot down. Just a small thump thump and the plane was going down. He and Tom Storey ejected and he had a few serene minutes in the air before the ground came up. He had made it but he had no idea where Tom was.

  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  4:36

    Ron Mastin had been shot down and was somewhere North of Hanoi. He hid through the night but woke up surrounded by men with rifles. A long jeep ride was interrupted several times so villagers could jeer at him and functionaries could lecture. During his interrogation, they would tie his arms and pull them up behind his back, but what could a 1st Lieutenant tell them?

  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  5:24

    Ron Mastin's first stop at the Hanoi Hilton was an area known as Heartbreak Hotel. One day he heard an American voice, the first he'd heard. "Do you know the tap code?" Once he had this, when he was near others, they could communicate. He still did not see another American until he got his first roommate.

  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  5:49

    At the Hanoi Hilton, Ron Mastin's first roommate was Robbie Risner, commander of an F-105 unit and an early shootdown in the war. Risner was one of the most mistreated prisoners due to his intransigence and his leadership. When he refused to follow a script for a meeting with Japanese officials, he lost his roommate and Mastin was moved to another cell.

  • Ron Mastin  |  Vietnam  |  11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron  |  7:01

    The POW's were moved around the countryside and, eventually, back to the Hanoi Hilton. They knew something was up when they were allowed to mingle and were allowed to try on new clothes. Then the camp commander read aloud the Paris Peace Accords, but the reaction was subdued. Finally, one group was suited up and marched out of the prison.

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