Colonel Lee Ellis Replays 20 Inspiring True Romance Stories From Vietnam POWs

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 0:14
Hi there, welcome to the best communication show, I’m your host, Bill Lampton the biz communication guide, bringing you communication tips and strategies that will boost your business. Because my guest and I are going to share winning words and ways. It’s a distinct privilege today to host Colonel Lee Ellis who comes to us from the Greater Metropolitan Atlanta area. You’ve probably seen Colonel ELLs as a media guest on CNN, CBS This Morning C span ABC and Fox News. What a privilege to see and hear him now. On the biz communication show. Colonel Leigh Ellis began his highly distinguished military service career as an Air Force fighter pilot, flying 53 combat missions over North Vietnam in 1967. He was shot down and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years, and the Hanoi area prison camps. After liberation, Lee resumed his Air Force career he earned his nation’s highest awards, including silver stars and the POWs medal. And civilian life Leigh Ellis is an award winning author, leadership coach and speaker in the areas of leadership and human performance. His list of clients reflects his global impact. His latest book captured my love set for release on May 30, is one that I have in hand because I was fortunate to get an advanced copy from Lee, captured by love gives us remarkable insights into the story of 20 amazing men who protected liberty. And also the exciting story of the courageous and loyal women who not only waited for them, but advocated for their well being and release. I know you’re join me, and saluting and welcoming Colonel Lee Ellis for our conversation about captured by love. Hello, Lee.

Colonel Lee Ellis 2:28
Hi, Bill, great to be with you. again. Great to see you. Again. We’ve known each other many years now. And you launched me into my speaking career, probably 12 or 14 years ago.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 2:40
That’s one of the highlights of my career. Working with you when you first started out, and I remember how we met our earlier conversations and how excited I was to have and still am to have played any part at all and helping you get your dynamic message across which by now many 1000s have have heard, they’ve read about and believe me, it’s a wonderful pleasure to host you. I mentioned out at the outset here, the book that’s going to be released May 30 2023, captured by love who you have written several books, Lee. So your other books also talked about your, your Vietnam pow experience. So the logical first question would be, then why this book? What what does it add that a reader couldn’t get from your other books?

Colonel Lee Ellis 3:40
You know, just back up and start at the beginning, if you told any of my teachers, or my mother that I was going to be an author of a book, they would have laughed at you because I probably never never wrote more than two pages, except maybe four or five in college. And I’ve written several books on leadership and bringing into it those books, the leadership lessons that we learned in Hanoi Hilton, because we had great, great leaders, and it was in a very difficult circumstance. But what we learned was that those lessons we learned there apply every day in the workplace. Well, at our pow reunions, I kept hearing the stories of couples, as a specialty the wives were sharing because I knew their husbands I live with them locked up 24 hours a day, sometimes for years. And I heard the stories of how they met and their got their love, you know their romance and so on. And I said Hollywood cannot write a script this amazing. This romantic, this exciting. Somebody needs to write a book. And then I realized nobody was going to do that. And I said, Well, I know how to write a book and I could get a help get some help. From a romance writer and the two of us Greg go Dec who had written a book that sold over a million In called 1001 ways to be romantic. And so the two of us were together, we got 20 couples, all of God’s were POWs for more than five years and up to eight years, two of them were there eight years. And both of their wives waited on them until they came home. And so it’s just amazing that what those women went through how they raise kids without their husbands, how they stood up in the late 60s, when women didn’t have a lot of the freedoms that they have. Now, you know, if you want to buy a house, and you were a woman back in 1969, you probably weren’t going to be able to unless some politician helped you, because banks just didn’t love money. So it’s great stories about the women about the romance and some stories about the POW camps and what we went through.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 5:53
Well, while we’re on the topic of the the women who the lady loves that they left behind, you mentioned it and I’d like for you to expand on it a little bit. That was in the late 1960s, that that certainly was not at a time when women were as vocal as politically involved as as they are now. We had Betty for Dan, and we had Gloria Steinem, but they were very much the exception. So give us an overview. Please have exactly the steps that these women took. Yeah. In fact, they were they were told at first to be silent not to do anything, but they didn’t stay there. So what were the steps, they took, for two reasons, one more humane treatment for the POWs and secondly, working toward their release.

Colonel Lee Ellis 6:54
Yes. You know, the women, as you said, were told they kind of came from the State Department for diplomacy, they said that the families of the POWs should be quiet. And so keep silent, be quiet kind of became the thing. And that was passed down to them. And they did because they were loyal, and wanted to do the right thing for the government and their husbands and their sons, like be I was, I was still single when I was shut down. And after a while, several years, like us, Commander Stockdale was shot down in 1965. So by 1968, he’s been missing for three years. And a lot of POWs were shot down and captured in 1965. Some of them husbands, were not known whether they were POWs or Emma A’s, missing an action. They didn’t know if they’re dead or alive. And during those years, and so these women got tired of waiting for three years and the government saying, you know, keep quiet, because North Vietnam, the communist government there has signed, the treaty didn’t even accords which indicated and they committed to lenient and humane treatment of captives during the war. And to that they would be accounted for they tell the families or tell the government, the other government who was captured, and three that would be allowed to write letters home. So they were not abiding by those conditions. And so the wives are saying, Why isn’t our government hitting them over the head about the treatment of our POWs and they’re not following the Geneva Conventions that they agreed to. So this is what really started them to push back in the late 60s. And it was led by obviously, one of those was civil Stockdale, Commander, stock housewife and she got a bunch of wives in the San Diego area who were Navy pilots wives. Remember, most of the all the POWs over North Vietnam had been shot down and captured. They were aircrew people. And then there was some back on the east coast at the Navy bases up into Norfolk area and Virginia Beach area. And down in Jacksonville, the same thing started to happen around Big Air Force communities like San Antonio, and down in Tampa, Florida and other places and around DC. And so they started they realized that what they needed to do was unite. And so they formed what started out as a league of wives and then was changed into the National League a POW Emma a missing an action families. And that group got really large and they had good support. The government the they had no financials from the government. They were all supported by people like Ross Perot and the locals in their hometown. One lady from Spokane, Washington, their hometown provided her and three or four other ladies who are in missing an action in that In that town, they had a base their air force base. And they provided them with the funds to travel to several countries, maybe 15 different countries, and meet with diplomats and encourage them to put pressure on the communists of North Vietnam, to treat us in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. So all of this started to happen in 1969, especially, and it did happen. Another thing happened then was we had a new president, President Nixon, and his Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, Secretary Laird really listened to the wives. They got appointments with them, you listen and President Nixon accepted meetings for them and sat down with them and listen to them. And they changed the policy from keep quiet, to go public. And now the government started to put pressure on the North Vietnamese, so are these wives and families had changed the policy, the US government, and now they all work together to change the policy of the communist government, which they did. When the communist President Ho Chi Minh died. And a few weeks later, the new leaders got installed. And they stopped the torture.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 11:12
One of the things I’ve thought about quite often, there were two or three times during my career, my previous career before I became a Communication Consultant, two or three times when I moved to a new location, but my family could not move with me, quite then because of a daughter having three or four months before her school term ended. And we didn’t want to disrupt that. So many of us, I guess, in civilian life, have had situations where we had to move away from our families for a while, but we could contact them, they could contact us. And those days, telephone might have been it before we got the internet, but we could still be in touch, we could go visit. And I often think when I think of the POWs, you and the others who were there from five to eight years, that’s an entirely different situation in which the rest of us have difficulty imagining Lee and as a couple of seconds, we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about the durability that you and the others endured and the Hanoi Hilton be right back.

Speaker 3 12:38
Do you wish you felt confident about giving speeches? Do you want to deal with difficult people constructively? And what about becoming more persuasive and sales, then keep listening now to Dr. Bill Lampton, he spent 20 years in management, so he knows the communication skills you need for success, I urge you to call the biz communication guide today for a no cost. But very valuable 30 minute discussion about your communication challenges. Call now. 678-316-4300. Again, that’s 678-316-4300.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 13:19
Late cap captured my love is a totally enthralling book, I’m, I pre ordered mine, which it won’t be available until May 30. And all of our viewers and all of our listeners, I encourage you to pre order that book. And when that book arrives, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the patriotism, and the love that’s combined in the book, Lee’s getting to another topic now. And the book, you certainly talk about romance a lot. But you also are very frank in the book about what went on in the camps. And there are even very vivid drawings of the positions of torture, the torture and the isolation, and the brainwashing. All of it must have tried to get information from those who were captured. So the question any of us have is, as we look at what you went through, how did you endure that? How did you and the others endure that and remain loyal to oath that you had taken?

Colonel Lee Ellis 14:36
I think step one was that we were committed to follow the code of conduct, which was six articles that we had memorized and our basic training and along the way, and which basically said we wouldn’t call out cooperate and collaborate with the enemy, we faithful to our country and our teammates, and we resist making propaganda and all that kind of stuff. And so we were committed to that, okay, now they’re going to torture us to make us break that commitment. And to do something. Well, we resisted. And what we learned was, they could make you do something. And but they couldn’t make you do what they wanted, generally speaking. In other words, I was tortured to fill out a three page biography on my life and my family. I think it was something they were building for the Russian building, you know, a dossier on American pilots or something? Well, I refused. I gave him name, rank, service number, date of birth, which is what we’re supposed to do, by the code of conduct and Geneva Conventions. I gave him that, and then no more. And then after being tortured, I finally gave in, because I just felt like I wouldn’t, I couldn’t take it anymore. And when I did, I filled out that three page biography. And the only thing that was true, and there was my father’s first and last name, because I was hoping to be able to write a letter home someday. That was a time I’d been there several months, and I hadn’t written a letter home, of course, I wrote my first letter two years and got my first one, they’re all six long letters at two and a half years. But once we, I was so ashamed that I wasn’t able to beat them. You know, fighter pilots are very competitive and proud. And so we, you know, to go back and know that I had given up, I was ashamed of myself there and then just ashamed to be with a group of warriors, that I had not been strong enough. Well, I get back and I found out, they had been through the same thing. And sure enough, some of them lasted longer than me, and some didn’t last long as me. And so what we learned was that eventually, they could make you do something, but you didn’t give them what they want. They wanted propaganda, you know, and will don’t know commander Denton and the POW camp was tortured to say that, and he finally agreed, after a lot of torture, to say that the US bombing was wrong, and they should stop it. That’s what they wanted. They wanted propaganda. That was the main thing that they wanted out of us anti war propaganda. And so he went on to the press conference, in front of the video cameras of the old days, the not video cameras, even roll movie cameras, for that press conference. And when the Japanese reporter asked him what he thought about his country’s bombing, policy of the bombing, he said, You know, I’ve been here a long time. And I don’t know what my country’s policy is on anything anymore. But whatever it is, I agree with 110%. It was like in your face, while they didn’t want to lose face, dragging him out in front of the camera right then. So to let him answer a few more questions, and then they took him out and they tortured him again. But while they were doing that, he started blinking his eyes and Morse code. Hate to hate blink, T, O, R, T, U R E twice. It was brilliant, courageous. In fact, you can still see that if you put in your browser, Vinton blinks, torture, you can see that original video and you can see what he did. So we had such courageous leaders that helped us to be tough because our leaders were taught. And between our leadership that we had, what we had learned about being committed to the code of conduct our faithfulness and loyalty to our country. And the fact that we stay united, you know, you cannot do battles and go through hard times alone. Our cycle psychology and mentality is not strong enough generally to fight alone, forever. And when we had teammates that were always caring for us reaching out taking risks, to communicate with us and let us know, Hey, man, we’re proud of you. We’re not going home without you. That unity held us together in such a way that we were able to resist over and over again and bounce back and bounce back. And to some degree, that’s exactly what was happening back home. They women got united. They believed in their cause, and they weren’t going to give up.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 19:31
It’s, I’ve often said, if I wanted to know the definition of patriotism, I would just look up in the dictionary and there would be the picture of you guys very much. So as I read the book, and getting to a lighter side now as I read the book, sometimes people say well, I met this person by coincidence or it was providence. I met them or it was an accident, but the book contains some entertaining and also uplifting stories about how some of these couples met either pre war, our post war. Give us a couple of examples, please.

Colonel Lee Ellis 20:11
Yeah. Well, the one of the pre war stories is Smitty and Louise Harrison. They dated a lot of girls. He was single and fighter pilot flying around. And, you know, you could take off and fly places on the weekend and visit but a lot of girls, and then he met Louise, who was a flight attendant, the column stewardesses back then, and she was pretty sharp and he kind of liked her and but he took her to the club one night, right after they met, and he was introducing her some folks. And he didn’t call her Louise for some reason he forgot and said, and introduce her as Jane. And she turned around and looked him in the eye and said, well, thank you, Tarzan. And so they became Tarzan and Jane. Well, that was he was one of the ones that was a POW almost eight years. And she had two children was six months pregnant when he was captured, didn’t know if he was dead or alive for good many months, and maybe years. And she raised their sons. He had two daughters and raised their son who was eight years old when Smitty came home. They’ve had a great marriage, but others one gal was a Pan Am flight attendant. And she was stationed over in London, and her friend who was wearing one of those pow Mia bracelets, it had a person’s name and the day that was shot down on it. And in the end, she looked at and she said, What’s that? And he said, of the pow Mia bracelet, and she studied and found out a little bit more about it. And she ordered one, and she got one, and it had James Bailey on it. So she got it. And then she was single. So she wrote a letter to James Bailey’s family, and sent it back to the group that sent out to the bracelets. And they sent her back and said, Well, he goes by Bill. It’s James William, and he goes by Bill. So she prayed for him every day, and waited several years, a couple of years until he came home. And then she sent him a note and said, Hey, I’m over here in London, if you ever get over here, stop by. Well, he went to Europe on a vacation a couple of months after we came home. And he reached out to her and she said, Well, I’ll be back on Tuesday, I’m flying to New York. And he says, Well, I’ll meet you there. Well, he got her apartment. And she didn’t. She was late getting in that day because of bad weather in New York. She walks in the door, she had a roommate, a girl roommate, and he got there early and was visiting with her. And when Suzy walked in the door, her apartment, bill goes over and grabs her up, hugs her and swings around in a circle. And they start talking. And a little while later, she and her roommate go back in the kitchen and their roommate said you’re gonna marry him. She said, Oh, no, we’re just going to be friends. Well, two weeks later in Paris, he proposed to her they’ve been married 48 years and just had a fantastic marriage. Several kids and the stories are just like that. They’re just so amazing how people met. And I dated a lot of girls when I came home. And they were nice and good looking. But that didn’t meet the one until I was transferred back to Valdosta, Georgia, where I’d gone through flight school and I was gonna be I was an instructor pilot in the T 38. And one night, this gal walks two girls walk in the club and I told a friend of mine, hey, I’ll see you later. I’m gonna go dance with her. And sure enough, it was only six or eight weeks and I thought this is the one.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 23:56
And you’ve been you’ve been dancing for a lot of years since 48 Plus marvelous, captured by love has many wonderful stories like that. Inspiring true romance stories from Vietnam POWs, I’m proud to have my name associated with this wonderful story. And anyway, late every time you and I talk the time just flies because your story of true dedication, love of country. And then later the terrific career where you talk about leadership. And you’re talking about teamwork. That’s not just something you got on a weekend course you lived it. And so that’s why your your books and your speeches have such a wide appeal. I know that there are people who will definitely want to get in contact with you. So please give us your contact information Lee

Colonel Lee Ellis 25:00
Yes, it’s Lee at leading with You might our website leading with as lot of free tools on there for leadership and teamwork, free stuff on there. And also you can read about my leadership books there. And then for the new book, there are pow romance book captured by love. The website is Pow So that’s pretty easy to remember Pow couple of stories on there pictures of the 20 couples that are in the book before and after type stories, early marriage and late marriage, I think you’ll really enjoy just visiting that website pow romance, and you can pre order the books there now too.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 25:46
Thank you very much for that. And since you have given your contact information, I will very happily share mine my YouTube channel. If you go to YouTube and go to the search bar type in my YouTube moniker which is Bill Lampton PhD. And while you’re there, be sure to hit the subscribe button, because you’ll have access to this interview, which I really liked to call a conversation, and many others, and also some individual communication instruction, interviews, a presentation is that I’ve given I think it’s about 450 Total videos there for you. And then addition, I certainly invite you to go to my website. Since I’m the biz communication guy, it’s biz bi Z biz communication After you get a look at the My Services for corporations and leaders, please give me a call 678-316-4300. Let’s talk about your communication challenges and problems and how I can assist you with them. Lee as we close out this this exciting and then heartening conversation. Do you have any words to sort of pull it all together for us?

Colonel Lee Ellis 27:15
I have two things to mention. One is I would encourage people to use your services, they really helped launch me as a speaker. So appreciate that. The other one is the title of the book is captured by love. And as I think about that more and more every day, love is the most powerful thing every person wants to be loved. When you look at somebody and smile that’s like a ray of small ray of love when you accept somebody by smiling at them or say something positive to them. You affirm them. It really helps them grow into a healthier person, and helps them feel valued and important. I believe that those are really rays of God’s love and love is the most powerful, stabilizing thing we can all have. It got us through the POWs situation that got the wives through. And we’ve had great marriages because of that. Leaders, husbands Wives, Love those around you.

Bill Lampton Ph.D. 28:18
A great message as I remember there’s one couple in the book. Married 63 years is that right? Yes. Yes. Colonel Lee Ellis, thank you so much for being with us on the business community education show. It’s a privilege It’s a pleasure. It’s uplifting and everyone who has watched our listened order captured my love because you will be captured by this story as I have been and many 1000s will be thank you for being with us on the biz communication show either the video or the podcast. Be with us again soon for another presentation that gives you winning words and ways in your business. Thank you very much. I’m Bill Lampton the biz communication guy

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