SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
(For part I of “Getting to know Code of Conduct," click here.)
Retired Air Force Col. Dewey Waddell was shot down in his F-105 Thunderchief over the jungles of Vietnam, July 5, 1967. He spent the next six years as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton.
“It’s quite a shock when you’re zooming along and then all of a sudden you’re sitting on the ground,” said retired Col. Dewey Waddell.
The Code of Conduct, the rules of capture that Waddell needed to remember, guide the actions of American service members separated from friendly control and trying to return home with honor.
“The Code of Conduct applies every day at work and in life with three simple phrases,” said Tech. Sgt. David Jones, 20th Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics noncommissioned officer in charge. “Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. If Airmen can stick to those ideals in everyday life, they won’t have problems with the Code of Conduct down range.”
The fourth article of the Code of Conduct reads, “If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.”
The environment of a prisoner of war camp can be stressful. The Code of Conduct reiterates the expectation of service members to follow the commands of those appointed above them and lead those below them with confidence and resolve.
The fifth article of the Code of Conduct reads, “When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”
Captors have no right to try to extract information from captives other than the information presented in the Code of Conduct. Enemies of the United States may try to manipulate prisoners of war for propaganda purposes, so captured service members must avoid giving them any ammunition to warp the truth.
“If you are captured the enemy might torture you to get information,” said Christine Herrera, 20th Fighter Wing Judge Advocate legal assistant. “The Code of Conduct creates a structure for how you are supposed to act.”
The sixth article of the Code of Conduct reads, “I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”
The final article reminds service members who they are and what they can look forward to upon escape or release. However, even in captivity, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Code of Conduct still apply and service members will be held accountable for dishonorable actions in the hands of the enemy.
The Code of Conduct and the Uniform Code of Military justice are standards that apply to service members at all times. If captured, a service member must resolve themselves, remember the Code of Conduct in the face of stress and prepare to return with honor.