On Nov. 9, 1967, while on a flight over North Vietnam, Captain Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food.
After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Captain Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a Prisoner of War camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered one of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length.
During his interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Captain Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner, Lt. Col. Robert Craner.
During Captain Sijan's intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Due to his extreme weakness, adverse living conditions, insufficient clothing, and an inadequate diet, Captain Sijan contracted pneumonia on Jan. 18, 1968. Removed from his cell on Jan. 21, 1968, he died at the Hoa Lo prison camp, as reported by his Vietnamese captors.
The Medal of Honor was presented to his parents on March 4, 1976, by President Gerald R. Ford.
See the full citation see the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
For more information see the National Museum of the USAF website.