The Longest Serving Iowa Vietnam Prisoner of War Has Died
The Iowan who served more time as a prisoner of war than any other Iowan during the Vietnam War has died.
The Des Moines Register reports that Larry Spencer passed away on Saturday. He was 82 years old. Spencer was a native of Earlham, Iowa, and was a U.S. Navy radar intercept officer. On February 18th, 1966, his F-4 Phantom was shot down over North Vietnam. The Register reports that Spencer and the aircraft pilot, James T. Ruffin, ejected from the aircraft. Spencer would go on to spend more than 2,550 days in North Vietnamese captivity. He was freed on February 12th, 1973, and was one of the first 20 American POWs returned from the Vietnam War.
The Register reports that while in captivity, Spencer was subjected to extreme mental and physical cruelties. Eventually, the North Vietnamese stopped using those tactics as Spencer's case gained international attention. In an interview in 2014, Spencer stated that his experiences gave him an understanding of what is important in life.
Life is good...You enjoy what is good because nobody knows what is coming tomorrow.
Spencer received numerous military honors including two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, and the Prisoner of War medal, according to the Register. He is survived by his wife Ann. Services will be held on May 31st, at 10 a.m. at Luthern Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway in Des Moines.
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