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Pete O.
Republican TX 22

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  • Honoring Congressman Sam Johnson on 40Th Anniversary of Release from Prisoner of War Camp

    by Representative Pete Olson

    Posted on 2013-02-25

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    OLSON. I want to thank my friend and fellow Texan, Judge Ted Poe, for hosting this Special Order: celebrating the greatest Texan in Congress, Colonel Sam Johnson, on the 40th anniversary of his return home after 7 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

    We've heard the stories of Sam's lifetime of service to our Nation. They are the stuff of legends--the best of the best. Sam was shot down on his 25th mission over Vietnam, captured and imprisoned by the enemy. He was put in a special prison known as Alcatraz. His 2 years in Alcatraz were described by Sam as ``hell on Earth.'' Twenty years after Sam left Alcatraz, I began my training to become a naval aviator. Part of that training included prisoner-of-war school, also known as SERE school--survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. In SERE school, we were locked in a dark box. We were deprived of sleep and exposed to interrogation techniques depicted in the movie ``Zero Dark Thirty.'' The main lesson I learned in SERE school was because of Sam Johnson: that my duty as a POW was to resist and to resist and to resist and to resist and to resist--to my breaking point as a human being.

    {time} 2000 When I hit that point, my duty was to bend a little, give some incomplete and vague information, regroup, and start anew--to resist, to resist, to resist, to resist, and to resist.

    Because of Sam Johnson's experience, every U.S. military pilot who follows in his footsteps, like me, knows in his heart if we're captured, we will never stop resisting our captors, and we will always come home with honor, like Sam did.

    The heart of Sam Johnson, the Sam Johnson I know, can be summed up in the first sentence Sam reportedly said to his fellow POWs after he left solitary confinement: Lieutenant Colonel Sam Johnson, reporting for duty, sir.

    I imagine that our POW in charge responded to Sam with a slow, crisp salute saying, Colonel Johnson, take charge, and carry out the plan of the day.

    Sam has been taking charge and carrying out the plan of the day his whole life. I wasn't there to greet Sam when he came home 40 years ago, so I say it to my friend now: Welcome home, Sam. Welcome home.

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