Brigadier General (Ret.) James Latham is an Air Force veteran who served for more than 27 years, from March 1969 to August 1997. He was a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours to include 383 combat missions in Southeast and Southwest Asia. On October 5th, 1972, while operating near Dong Hoi City in the lower panhandle of North Vietnam, he was shot down while flying a mission in his F-4 Phantom II jet. “During my brief period as a Prisoner of War, many things became apparent to me. But the one that really made an impression on me was the value of Freedom. I’m afraid people will never know how valuable freedom is until they have to live without it,” Latham said. After being held prisoner for four weeks in lower North Vietnam, Latham unsuccessfully attempted to escape. “Although I was free for only six or seven hours and the punishment received upon recapture was brutal, I became aware for the first time why men were willing to give their lives to be free,” said Latham. After spending 175 days in captivity, Latham was released during Operation HOMECOMING on March 29th, 1973.
Latham and his wife Carol Sue currently reside in Virginia.