Local Connection: Capt. Jerry Coffee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Capt. Jerry Coffee

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By: Rick Blangiardi

We are truly blessed to have so many heroes living among us here in Hawaii but one of the most inspirational is Capt. Jerry Coffee.

As many of you may know, Capt. Coffee is one of the longest-held prisoners of war held in North Vietnam.

Having spent seven years and nine days in captivity, in 1966, his reconnaissance jet was shot down. He parachuted to safety but lost his next years of freedom under a communist regime....

In 1973, he returned to operation duties and retired from active duty in the navy after 28 years.

Please pick up the Feb. 6 issue of midweek to read about Capt. Coffee's reflections about the 40th anniversary of his release.

He describes the feeling of liberation after walking out of Wah Lo prison for the first time....He wrote,"as the tail ramp was raised and the engines began to hum, and the pilot taxied to the runway, we all became very quiet." He thought, "My god, is this really happening???? After all these years, is this really it?"...

Capt. Coffee has been decorated with the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit, The distinguished flying cross, Two bronze stars, The air medal, Two purple hearts and the Vietnam service medal with 13 stars....

Of everything he has received though, the most precious was his freedom....

It is humbling to know such a patriot and hero....

Welcome home Capt. Coffee, 40 years after the fact.

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