Incredible story of courage and faith.
He was just 19 years old when his B-17 Bomber was shot down by the Germans in 1944. He would spend 11 months as a prisoner of war.
For most, the war story would end there, but for Colonel Richard Keirn, it would be the beginning of an amazing story that would carry over two major wars.
Keirn is one of only two men in history to be held as a prisoner of war in both World War II and Vietnam. His two experiences as a POW were as different as the two wars, one that united America and one that divided it.
FROM GERMANY TO VIETNAM
“In Germany he was treated like a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, but in Vietnam he was treated like an animal,” said his son, Steve Keirn of Tampa.
Steve was just 13 years-old when his dad’s F-4 Phantom was shot down by a North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile in 1964. His family was first told that Captain Keirn was killed then. Three months later they got word that he was alive and being held prisoner.
Keirn and other POWs were tortured. Steve said his father’s captors dislocated his shoulders.
“Then they’d hang him from a beam and hang him by his elbows and just let him hang there for hours at a time,” Steve said.
They also pulled off his fingernails and withheld food. Keirn would spend eight years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese.