In the summer of 1967, when the air war over North Vietnam had reached its deadliest phase, a navy pilot names Al Stafford was shot down near Haiphong. Like all his breed, Stafford was tough, independent, resourceful. Survival school taught aviators what to expect if they were captured, and the military code of conduct was unambiguous: never give in to the enemy.
But nothing in his experience could have prepared Al Stafford---or any of the other pilots who shared the ordeal of the next six years--for what it meant to survive as a POW in Vietnam.
In those first days, Stafford was severely beaten, tied in strangle-hold ropes for hours, and left so long without water he resorted to licking the filthy floor of his cell for traces of moisture. Toe torture was gruesome, the humiliation unbearable. As the months wore on, Stafford began to wonder if he could endure it all, or if he wanted to.
Only one thing got Al Stafford through: he was not alone. Through intricate and ingenious methods, the prisoners in each camp made contact, and it saved them. They worked out ways to communicate by tapping out a complex code on their cell walls. They established a chain of command and organized their resistance efforts. They nursed each other's shattered bodies and bolstered each other's morale. They even, miraculously, maintained their sense of humor.
This is what it meant to come through whole. Later codified by the military, the resources the POWs evolved became a doctrine of survival known as Bouncing Back.
In a losing war, these men won the fight for their lives. Never before has their story been told in such immediate and harrowing detail. BOUNCING BACK is a powerful account of their experience and an inspiring testimony to the human spirit.