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Captain Giles R. Norrington USN (Ret.) - Biography

Chase-Rescorla Scholarship Dinner March 16, 2013

Giles Norrington is a former Marine Infantryman, retired (after 34 years of service) naval aviator who spent 1,775 days as a POW in North Vietnam mostly at the "Hanoi Hilton", author of a number of articles on ethics and military history and spokesperson for POW's and a variety of service organizations including the Salvation Army, executive director of the American Red Cross Chapter in New London Conn., director of the AIDS Service agency in Norfolk, Va., and Vice President of the Rotary Club of Baileys Crossroads in Virginia among others.

March 14, 2013 will be the 40th anniversary of his release from captivity in North Vietnam as a result of the Paris Peace Accords. He was shot down on a reconnaissance mission (his 22nd mission) on May 5, 1968. He was held in various prisons in North Vietnam where he endured great physical and mental hardships. During those times Captain Norrington and his fellow POW's never lost faith in their country. They persevered and they returned with honor. As he stated "there never was a time when I didn't believe that I would come home. The thing was to come home with our honor intact." He said the POW's motto and way of life was "Return with Honor."

All Americans owe these brave men a great debt of gratitude for their sacrifices on our behalf. He said when he returned home after four years, 10 months and nine days in a North Vietnamese POW camp, he and other ex-POW's were treated like American heroes. Despite that he has added that "We were not always brave, but what we did was survive in difficult circumstances through faith in others, faith in ourselves, faith in God, and faith in our Constitution."

Captain Norrington stated "For almost five years I dreamed of looking at a horizon. I prayed for the day when we all would feel a fresh wind on our faces and feel the indescribable sensation of freedom. I have read a great deal of material written by people who asked, "Why Vietnam?" I would ask in return, "Why Lexington? Why Concord? Why Okinawa?" Since its birth as a nation our United States has realized its international responsibility, and we have demonstrated time and time again that we are a nation of people who care. We care about the filth in which millions live, we care about the lack of medical care from which so many suffer; we care about children whose life expectancy is measured in months rather than years; we care about spiritual and political freedom...that's why Vietnam! All of us who served in this conflict are grateful for having the chance to do so."

He further says "My personal experiences in Vietnam are typical. I gained strength through my God and my fellow prisoners of war. They are giants among men, and I am privileged to have served with them. I have seen that beautiful horizon and now look forward to a full and happy life as a citizen of a free and responsible nation."

Captain Norrington continues to lead a full life and has written crime prevention training courses for the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington, D.C., making appearances at POW/MIA events including the Department of Defense Prayer Breakfasts, and promoting POW/MIA accountability. He currently resides in Titusville, Florida with his wife Eileen also a retired Navy Captain.