Feature   Know Your Military

Video: A POW's Story of Capture and Reunion

April 3, 2019

Aug. 25, 1972, dawned hot and muggy in Vietnam. The pilots of Fighter Squadron 161, stationed aboard USS Midway, readied their aircraft and went over the day's flight plan. Their mission was an early evening MiG combat air patrol over North Vietnam. Navy Lt. John "Jack" Ensch would serve as a radar intercept officer in an F-4B Phantom.

A man poses for a photo wearing a flight jacket covered in patches.
Flight Jacket
Jack Ensch poses in his flight jacket. He spent a year as a prisoner of war in Vietnam after being shot down in his F-4B Phantom during a combat patrol.
Photo By: Video still by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Guire
VIRIN: 190401-D-FY142-002E

He wasn't worried. After 284 combat missions, and after shooting down two MiGs in a dogfight a few months earlier, he thought he was "bulletproof. ... It's always the other guy. ... You don't think it's going to happen to you."

A woman holds a black-and-white photo of a family from the 1970s.
Family Photo
Kathy Ensch holds a photo of her family. Her husband, Jack Ensch, spent a year as a prisoner of war in Vietnam after being shot down in his F-4B Phantom during a combat patrol.
Photo By: Video still by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Guire
VIRIN: 190401-D-FY142-001E
A man stands at a podium that reads "Sea World."
Luncheon Address
Retired Navy Capt. Jack Ensch, the 2018 San Diego Fleet Week president, addresses about 450 sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen during a luncheon at Sea World as part of San Diego Fleet Week, Oct. 23, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Lynn F. Andrews
VIRIN: 181023-N-UH865-0041E

Read more of Jack Ensch's story.

Video by James Shea, Andrew Miller and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Enright