Prisoner of war cup and spoon used by Thomas E. Collins, III
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas E. Collins, III, of Utica, Mississippi, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. While flying a combat mission on October 18, 1965, his F-4C Phantom II fighter-bomber was hit by ground fire over North Vietnam. Forced to eject at low altitude, then Captain Collins was immediately captured and taken as a prisoner of war. After spending 2,674 days in captivity, Collins was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973.
This metal cup with enamel lid and spoon were used by Collins while a POW at the infamous Hoa Lo Prison. He smuggled the items home to Mississippi upon his release in 1973.
Basic necessities were provided to American prisoners of war by their Vietnamese captors. Within the confines of their cells, prisoners of war developed a secret tap code to communicate to one another. Cups like this one were used to transmit and amplify messages tapped onto cell walls.
Source:Gift of LTC Thomas E. Collins, III
Related Conflict:Vietnam War
Display Status:This artifact is on view in the Vietnam War Gallery.
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