Upon repatriation in February 1973, POWs received a kit bag with a wallet, toothpaste, cigarettes, and matches. They were called “gifts from the heroic people of Vietnam.” Major Reynolds received this elephant-hide wallet the night before he left Hanoi to fly home on 12 February 1973.
In March 1963 1st Lt. Jon A. Reynolds was an Air Liaison Officer and Forward Air Controller assigned to the South Vietnamese 22nd Infantry Division in Kontum. In January 1964 he returned to the U.S. and joined the 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron and later the 335th at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, flying F-105 aircraft. His unit was deployed to Yokota AB, Japan, in July 1965 and then to Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, where he participated in strikes against North Vietnam.
On 28 November 1965 Capt. Reynolds’ aircraft was shot down while on a mission near Yen Bai, North Vietnam.
He was captured almost immediately and sent to the Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo Prison) where two of the first Americans he met were U.S. Navy Commander James B. Stockdale and USAF Lt. Colonel Robinson Risner. On 6 July 1966 Maj. Reynolds and 51 other POWs were taken to downtown Hanoi to be paraded in public view—a propaganda effort by the North Vietnamese. The prisoners were punched and hit with flying bricks and bottles on a two-mile march to a nearby stadium.
From 1966 to 1973 Maj. Reynolds, like most other prisoners, was moved from camp to camp—the Zoo, Briarpatch, Little Vegas, Dirty Bird. On 24 May 1968 he and 19 others opened Camp Hope at Son Tay. They left Son Tay on 14 July 1970 and moved to Camp Faith (nine miles west of Hanoi) just four months before the 21 November 1970 raid on Son Tay by U.S. Special Forces. After leaving Camp Faith he moved to Camp Unity and then to Dogpatch.
On 12 Feb 1973 Maj. Reynolds was in one of the first groups of POWs to be released. They left the Hanoi Hilton for the last time, boarded a C-141 Starlifter, and went home.
After repatriation Maj. Reynolds attended Duke University and then taught at the Air Force Academy for four years. He joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1982 and served as defense/air attaché in Beijing, China, from 1984 to 1988. Promoted to brigadier general in 1986, he served as Director of the U.S. Defense Attaché System until he retired from the USAF in 1990. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star with oak leaf cluster.
Question about this artifact? Email the Collections Manager, Hal Sellars.
Every artifact in the Air Mobility Command Museum, including this one, is part of the United States Air Force Heritage Program. We are not able to loan artifacts in the museum's collection.