Colonel Sam Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)


“I spent 29 years in the Air Force and was proud to answer my nation’s call to service in Korea and in Vietnam. The Air Force taught me the value of duty, honor, and country. And by its nature, the military is committed to excellence and success. We send young men to battle to fight for our freedom and for democracy to win. We should all strive for success, but what is it that makes us significant?

During my captivity I realized that my significance comes from God. I am nothing without Him and while my military training prepared me well for my years of captivity, it was God who allowed my survival.”

As a Prisoner of War for nearly seven years, I went through some difficult times. I spent 42 months in solitary confinement and 74 days in stocks. I told about my days as a POW in my book, Captive Warrior: A Vietnam POWs Story.

On the evening of my 74th day in stocks, I stared at the boarded-up window of my cell. It had been so long since I had seen the sky and the sun. My eyes blurred with tears, and at that moment, I felt suddenly finished. It was over; I couldn’t fight any more. I remember thinking as I fell asleep, exhausted and defeated, that it would be okay if I never woke up again.

Late that night a typhoon tore through the city of Hanoi, ripping roofs off buildings and lashing the prison courtyard with wind and slicing rain. I awoke to the sounds of breaking glass and slamming window shutters. The floor of my cell was filled with water, and I huddled against the wall, as far away from the incoming rain as the leg stocks would allow me. The violence of the storm stirred something inside me, and I began to pray like I had never prayed before. Long after the storm subsided, I lay on my bunk, drenched from the rain, and strangely at peace in the darkness.

I awoke the next morning to see my cell flooded with the first bright streaks of dawn. The storm had ripped the boards off my window, and for the first time in more than two months, sparkling rays of light danced a celebration in my tiny room. I had an overwhelming sense of the presence of God in that moment. He was with me, and He would be faithful. His fresh supply of mercy was pouring into my cell with all the reality of the sun’s shining rays. I understood the Bible verse I learned as a child: “His mercies are new every morning.” I was convinced that He would be sufficient for me; He would see me through.