More than twenty years ago, I first heard Captain Charlie Plumb’s story of six years of captivity in a Vietnam prison camp. I still get chills and goosebumps when I listen to his story of resilience, hope, and faith. If you have heard him speak, you still might find his nuggets on Admiral Stockdale, Louis Zamperini, and PTSD insightful and intriguing. His book is, I’m No Hero. Yet, I consider him one.
I’m not sure I’ve ever looked forward to an interview as much as this one. Perhaps that’s because I know Captain Plumb’s story well. Little did I know that he knew the man behind another one of my favorite books, Unbroken. Captain Plumb stated he helped Louis Zamperini with some of his speeches after he got to know him.
Here are some other highlights from our conversation:
- The parachute conversation at a Kansas City restaurant
- On making split-second decisions with a jet going down
- The shock of being shot down by a mig
- One of the original Top Gun pilots and trainers
- From freedom to an 8×8 cell
- “Adversity is a horrible thing to waste.”
- Admiral Jim Stockdale, the great leader, philosopher, and intellect
- His discussion with Jim Collins
- Using wire for secret codes
- “Return with Honor”
- Is the Angela Duckworth definition of grit complete?
- Culture and the Three Faiths
- The support group was vital
- Who is Captain Plumb’s hero?
Revisiting the Parachute Story
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Captain Plumb tell his parachute story. I found this recording on YouTube and listened to it the morning I interviewed him. I still got goosebumps each time I hear this.
The Best Book on Culture?
Before my interview with Captain Plumb, he suggested that I listen to his conversation with Jocko Willink. That had to be the fastest three hours I’ve ever experienced.
During that podcast, Captain Plumb mentioned research conducted on POWs who returned from Vietnam. Researchers found a very low rate of PTSD symptoms with the 591 POWs who returned home as compared to all other Vietnam veterans.
I was blown away by those findings. Accordingly, we discussed the reasoning behind the low rates which still boggles my mind. During this part of the conversation, Captain Plumb cited the book, Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. I listened to it over the following two days. The book was so good, I started reading the print version. This could possibly be my favorite book on culture.
Get a Signed Copy of Captain Charlie Plumb’s Book
Captain Plumb’s book is I’m No Hero. If you buy a copy from his website, he will personally sign it. Don’t be surprised if he asks how he should sign it for you.
Other relevant links:
A special thanks to Susan Runnels for helping to make this conversation possible.
Title Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0