freedom, are perhaps the most important words of the
Code, because they signify each American's faith
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of
service. Since John Paul Jones made his defiant
war, I am required to give name, rank, service number,
reply, "I have not yet begun to fight," to the present,
and date of birth. I will evade answering further
Americans have traditionally fought the enemy
questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral
wherever they were found and with whatever
or written statements disloyal to my country and its
Allies or harmful to their cause.
weapons were available. When captured, the
American, fighting for freedom, has continued the
The misfortune of being captured by the enemy
battle in a new arena. When facing a Communist
does not end a Seabee's usefulness to his country. His
interrogator, they have been under fire just as though
duty is to continue to resist the enemy by all possible
bullets and shell fragments were flying about them.
means and to escape and assist others to escape. A
Disarmed, the POW has fought back with mind and
Seabee may not accept parole from the enemy or
spirit, remaining faithful to their fellow POWs,
special favors, such as more food, warm clothes, less
yielding no military information, and resisting every
physical restrictions, and so forth, in return for
attempt of indoctrination. Every Seabee has the
promises not to escape or for informing or providing
responsibility to honor these traditions by carefully
information to the enemy.
adhering to the meaning of each article of the Code.
Informing, or any other action endangering the
The many Americans who have accepted this
well-being of a fellow prisoner, is forbidden. Prisoners
responsibility are heroes in the finest sense of the
of war must not help the enemy by identifying fellow
prisoners who may have knowledge of particular value
In February 1966, Lieutenant (jg) Dieter
to the enemy and who may, therefore, be made to suffer
Dengler, USNR, was on a bombing mission over
North Vietnam when his aircraft was badly
Strong leadership is essential to discipline.
damaged by ground fire. LTJG Dengler
Organization, resistance, and even survival may be
crash-landed his aircraft in nearby Laos and
extremely difficult without discipline. Personal
attempted to evade capture. After successfully
hygiene, sanitation, and care of the sick and wounded
evading the enemy for 1 day, he was captured and
prisoners of war are an absolute "must." All United
led to a village where he was interrogated and told
States officers and noncommissioned officers must
to sign a Communist propaganda statement
continue to carry out their responsibilities and exercise
condemning the United States. LTJG Dengler's
their authority if captured.
repeated refusal to give more than his name, rank,
service number, date of birth, or to sign any
The senior line officer or noncommissioned officer
statements, resulted in severe beatings. When he
within a prisoner of war camp, or a group of prisoners,
must assume command according to rank or date of
continued to refuse to answer questions, he was
rank, without regard to branch of service. He is the
tied behind a water buffalo that dragged him
lawful superior of all lower ranking personnel.
through the brush. The interrogations and beatings
continued for 3 days, but LTJG Dengler refused to
If the senior officer or noncommissioned officer is
give in. Later, he escaped from his guards but was
incapacitated or unable to command for any reason,
recaptured and again severely beaten. After 6
command must be assumed by the next senior man. This
months in captivity, LTJG Dengler successfully
responsibility cannot be avoided.
escaped, killing several enemy guards in the
process. On the seventeenth day, a pilot who
escaped with him was killed, and LTJG Dengler
had to continue alone. Although suffering from
malnutrition, jaundice, fatigue, and badly cut and
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting
swollen feet, LTJG Dengler refused to give up.
for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated
Finally, on the twenty-second day after his escape,
to the principles which made my country free. I will trust
he managed to lay out a crude SOS on a bed of
in my God and in the United States of America.
rocks and attract the attention of a United States Air
Article VI and Article I of the Code are quite similar.
Force aircraft. Later, a rescue helicopter plucked
The repeated words I am an American, fighting for
him to safety and ended his ordeal.