initiative and fearless devotion to duty are perfect
battlefield is the subject of Article II. Articles III, IV, and
examples of the meaning of the words of Article I of the
V concern conduct as a prisoner of war.
I am an American, fighting in the forces which
guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in
give my life in their defense.
command, I will never surrender the members of my
command while they still have the means to resist.
It is a long-standing tradition of American citizens
to answer the call to arms willingly when the peace and
This is an American tradition that dates back to the
security of this nation are threatened. Patrick Henry
revolutionary war. An individual may never voluntarily
stated it best in the early days of our country when he
surrender himself. If isolated and unable to fight the
said, " . . . give me liberty or give me death." Nathan
enemy, he is obligated to evade capture and rejoin
Hale, captured by the British during the revolutionary
friendly forces at the earliest possible time.
war and charged with spying, personified the spirit of an
American fighting for freedom, when he spoke the
reads Article II of the Code. In 1779 the captain of the
immortal words, "I only regret that I have but one life
Bonhomme Richard challenged two British ships of war,
to lose for my country," just before his execution by
the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough. Old, slow,
and hopelessly outclassed the Bonhomme Richard was
More recently, the threat to America has been less
being badly battered, repeatedly set on fire, and rapidly
obvious as small countries, such as South Korea and
falling with water when the captain of the Serapis called,
South Vietnam, have borne the brunt of attacks by the
"Do you ask for quarter?"
enemy. Nevertheless, Americans have risen to the
"I have not yet begun to fight," replied John Paul
challenge and have proven their dedication and
Jones. Hours later, the Serapis struck her flag; and Jones
willingness to make the supreme sacrifice as much as in
and his crew boarded and captured the British ship as
any of the wars in our history.
they watched their own ship sink
In June 1965, Construction Mechanic Third Class
When a unit is involved, the officer in command
David G. Shields served with U.S. Navy Seabee Team
may never surrender that unit to the enemy while it has
1104 at Dong Koai, supporting 5th Special Forces
the power to resist or evade. A unit that is cut off or
Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Although
surrounded must continue to fight until it is relieved by,
wounded when a reinforced Viet Cong regiment using
or able to, rejoin friendly forces.
a machine gun, heavy weapons, and small arms placed
intensive fire on the unit, CM3 Shields continued to
resupply his fellow Americans with needed ammunition
to return the enemy fire for a period of approximately 3
hours. Wounded a second time during this attack, CM3
Shields assisted in carrying a more critically wounded
If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all
man to safety. Then, he resumed firing at the enemy for
means available. I will make every effort to escape and
4 more hours. CM3 Shields unhesitantly volunteered to
aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor
accompany the commander and knock out an enemy
special favors from the enemy.
machine gun emplacement that was endangering the
lives of all personnel in the compound because of the
accuracy of the enemy fire. Advancing toward the
objective with a 3.5-inch rocket launcher, the two men
succeeded in destroying the enemy machine gun
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith
emplacement, undoubtedly saving the lives of many of
with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or
their fellow servicemen.
take part in any action which might be harmful to my
CM3 Shields fell mortally wounded by hostile fire
comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I
while returning to his position. He was later awarded the
will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me
Medal of Honor for his courageous actions. His bold
and will back them up in every way.