U. S. Navy (retired) Captain Gerald Coffee’s heroic story is legendary. While flying his RA-5C reconnaissance jet during a combat mission off the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk, he was shot down over North Vietnam.
Another mission of Jerry’s has affected our lives more than we know. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the United States was on the brink of war with the Soviet Union. Jerry flew low-level reconnaissance over the island of Cuba, photographing evidence of nuclear armament. The photographs he took, at great personal risk, provided the final evidence President Kennedy needed to implement a naval quarantine (blockade) that halted the stockpiling of Russian nuclear weapons in Cuba. For that alone, Jerry deserves our gratitude.
Dr. Sutton conducted this interview with Jerry in San Angelo, Texas, in 1995. Jerry’s book, Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times–a POW’s Story, is available through his website. There’s also an audio program of the same name. Jerry’s story was made into a stage play entitled The Prisoner. (24:16)
COMING SOON: The Hero in All of Us, Part Two (Guest: Former Vietnam POW Captain Gerald Coffee, USN [ret.])