Alvin Townley: Lessons on enduring coronavirus crisis from these heroes of Vietnam

New heroes are emerging as America faces its latest crisis. Some ensure our sick receive care. Others sustain vital supply chains. Some simply wear pajamas, doing their small but important duty to combat the spread of COVID-19.

American heroes have worn pajamas before. In fact, the men I admire most did their duty by enduring isolation, communicating without speaking face-to-face, and yes, wearing pajamas – scratchy, pink-striped pajamas. Their example becomes especially important today.

During the 1960s, North Vietnamese rockets and artillery shattered the self-assumed invincibility of more than 400 U.S. military aviators who became prisoners of war in the Hanoi Hilton and other infamous camps. In a matter of seconds, their missions suddenly and unexpectedly became ones of fierce defiance, patient endurance, mutual support, and unknown duration.

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These men did not take confinement well. They were used to streaking across open sky at Mach 1, making aircraft bend to their will, and always completing their mission. Like many of us, they believed they had control of their world.

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In an instant, their lives irreversibly changed, much as ours have today. Inside prison

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