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Guy Gruters
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1966–1973
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Purple Heart
Prisoner of War Medal

Guy Dennis Gruters was a United States Air Force officer and fighter pilot best known for his survival for over five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was one of the five hundred and ninety-one surviving POWs of all military services released in 1973 for return to the United States during Operation Homecoming.


Guy Gruters was raised in New Jersey where he spent his childhood trapping muskrat, camping, hunting and Scouting (Eagle Scout Rank awarded). He won acceptance to the United States Air Force Academy and graduated with a BS in Engineering Science (Summa Cum Laude, ranked 7th in his graduating class overall, #1 in Engineering Science.) He then went on to Purdue University and completed a Masters Degree in Astronautical Engineering in less than one year. After Undergraduate Pilot Training and fighter gunnery school, he volunteered for Vietnam and served six years, more than five years of which was as a POW. During his flight operations as a Forward Air Controller in the first 10 months, Guy flew more than 400 combat missions, first for the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the O-1 Bird Dog light observation aircraft and then for the MISTY Fast FACS in the F-100F Super Sabre over North Vietnam.

As a copilot of the two-seat F-100F, Gruters was shot down twice. The first shoot down required a parachute water landing less than one mile offshore near the North Vietnamese city of Dong Hoi while under fire from the NVA coastal guns in November 1967. While North Vietnamese boats were prevented from intercepting the downed pilots by strafing U.S. F-4 fighter-bombers, First Lieutenant Gruters and Captain Charles Neel were rescued under heavy fire by two USAF HH-3E Sea King helicopter crews based 60 miles away.[1]

Gruters was shot down for the second time on December 20, 1967. He and fellow pilot, Colonel Robert R. Craner were captured and imprisoned in the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) among other camps. Upon their initial incarceration, Gruters and Craner cared for Lance Sijan before Sijan succumbed to wounds and torture in January 1968.[1]

Gruters spent 5 years and 3 months as a prisoner of war before his release in 1973.


Guy Gruters' decorations include more than thirty combat awards, with two Silver Stars, two DFCs, two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the POW Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, 20 Air Medals and other medals.

Other HonorsEdit

Guy Gruters' testimony was instrumental in Lance Sijan receiving the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1976. Guy Gruters' story was described in the book, "Bury Us Upside Down,"[2] "Into the Mouth of the Cat," and "Misty: Fast Facs."


  1. 1.0 1.1 Galdorisi, George; Phillips, Thomas (January 2009). Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue. Zenith Press. pp. 316–317. ISBN 0-7603-2392-5. 
  2. [1]

External linksEdit

"Guy Gruters' Website". Retrieved April 29, 2011. 

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