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News > Local News > WIBC AUDIO ARCHIVE: POW Col. Kasler Returns From Vietnam

WIBC AUDIO ARCHIVE: POW Col. Kasler Returns From Vietnam

In recognition of National POW/MIA Day, a look at an Indiana hero who shared a room at the Hanoi Hilton with Sen. John McCain

INDIANAPOLIS--You may not remember the name James Kasler. The fighter pilot from Indiana was a prisoner of war in Vietnam from 1966 to 1973. Kasler was shot down Aug. 8, 1966, trying to rescue his wingman, who had ejected after his plane was hit during a firefight.

He endured daily torture, at times, as the North Vietnamese army tried to force him to speak against America on TV. When he refused, he was beaten to a pulp. At times, he said, he could not open his mouth. He was lashed with a fan belt. 

The World War II, Korea and Vietnam vet received the Air Force Cross three times, the only person with that distinction. At least one of those was for his refusal to speak against America, despite the torture. He shared a room at the "Hanoi Hilton", with John McCain, among others.

Kasler, who was born in South Bend, returned to Indianapolis, by way of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, on March 4, 1973, as part of Operation: Homecoming, near the end of the war.

WIBC radio captured the moment he came off of the plane, a parade in his honor in the capital city, and a speech he made in Indianapolis later.

Kasler retained support of the war. You can hear that in his speech. He was a proud American and died at his Florida home in 2014.

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis

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