Alumnus John Dramesi ED’55 displaying flag


North Jersey\part of USA Today Network John McCain

The late U.S. Senator John McCain was rightly lionized for his heroism during the Vietnam War, when he was tortured as a prisoner of war. A fellow POW at the Hoa-Lo Prison in North Vietnam bore years of brutality, too. Alumnus John Dramesi, who died last year, had also been a pilot whose bomber was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. During his incarceration, Dramesi ED’55, a colonel who became the Air Force’s most decorated officer before his retirement in 1982, scavenged stray material and thread from POWs’ clothing to make a small American flag. When Dramesi and 590 other POWs were freed in March 1973, he was photographed proudly displaying it from a bus window. He later presented the flag to President Richard Nixon, and today it resides in the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. After a year’s wait, due to the high demand for burials, the remains of Dramesi (who walked with the Class of 1956) were buried on September 20 at Arlington National Cemetery, with the soldier receiving full military honors.