Air Force Veteran Peter A. Callaghan is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Peter A. Callaghan, who served during the Vietnam War as a navigator and became a prisoner of war.

Peter Callaghan worked at NBC Television Studios in advertisement before receiving a draft notice in 1968. He first joined the Army and later transferred to the Air Force, becoming a flight navigator. Callaghan served at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina with an F-4 squadron.

In April 1971, he deployed to Thailand. Callaghan flew 55 missions as a navigator after his arrival in Thailand. In January 1972, Callaghan was flying a mission to Hanoi in North Vietnam when the enemy shot down his plane. The pilot and him landed in a village west of Hanoi.

After North Vietnamese militia arrested them, the militia imprisoned them at the Hỏa Lò Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton. Captors interrogated them unsuccessfully about military technology and placed in solitary confinement.

Enemy forces later moved Callaghan and his fellow prisoners to a camp in southern Hanoi nicknamed “The Zoo.” There, they received meager rations of bread, soup and milk, with no clean water. They were also kept away from new arrivals in an attempt to cut them off from the outside world. In December 1972, Callaghan and seven other prisoners were moved back to the Hilton and witnessed the Christmas bombings of Hanoi, known as Operation Linebacker II. The North Vietnamese released Callaghan from Hanoi in March 1973. After recuperation in the Philippines, he returned to the United States in April.

Callaghan later became a navigational instructor and C-5 navigator in northern California, and an Air Force recruiter in Michigan and Texas. He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1989.

Thank you for your service!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editor: Joseph Cardinal

Fact checker: Brett Raffish

Graphic artist: Alyssa Morford

Share this story

Published on Dec. 24, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 155


  1. Senior Veterans Care Network January 3, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for your service Peter Callaghan.

  2. Akicita Mani December 24, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    (c) M. Bartlett, 1986, 1987, 1999, 2007, 2017, 2019.

    T’was the night before Christmas
    And all through the land
    No Americans were stirring
    Though over two grand
    Pilots and grunts
    Some civilians too
    Were still held in cages
    Made of bamboo

    Some had been held
    Twenty years or more
    Waiting for FREEDOM
    To reach their home shores
    Like Shelton in Laos
    And Hall in Viet Nam
    Some hit by small arms
    Some downed by S.A.M.

    At the end of the war
    We thought they’d be free
    By the terms of accords
    Signed in Paree
    Those who came home
    Had all gone through Hell
    As soon we would see
    From the tales they would tell

    Denton and Stockdale
    Dengler and Rowe
    They’re all in the know

    Now Christmas once more
    Is dawning anew
    Since Seventy-Three
    We got only two
    Last there was Garwood
    But first, Emmett Kay
    How must the rest
    Feel on this Christmas Day?

    Have we deserted
    And left them to die
    Standerwick, Bodden,
    Parker and Wrye?
    They cannot wait
    Another year to go past
    It’s already late
    How long can they last

    We must get them home
    Even if there’s but one
    The next time it happens
    It might be your son
    All these brave men
    Who wont to be free
    Have been forsaken…
    By that lady…….Liberty.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Horace Poolaw, who became a well-known photographer of Native American life.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Deborah Jo Pereira, who enlisted in the military at a unique time in her life and in American history.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran John Williams, who served in the Air Force Band and is today a well-known composer of multiple music pieces.