Captain Gerald Coffee delivers his electrifying story of surviving a POW experience in Vietnam where he was imprisoned with Senator John McCain. The author speaks internationally to audiences ranging from military anniversary events to corporate events.
Gerald Coffee, considered one of the nation's top speakers, addresses scores of audiences each year, including many prestigious business and leadership groups. Born in Modesto, California, he joined the Navy in 1957 after graduation from UCLA with a major in business administration. After returning from Vietnam, he received his master's degree in political science and then attended the esteemed National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Captain Coffee has earned many military awards and decorations, including the Silver Star, as well as numerous civilian awards. Retired from the Navy since 1985, he now lives in Hawaii.
My dear friend Jerry Coffee is a man I ve become as close to as
practically anyone I ve ever known. It would be very difficult for
me to describe all Jerry s achievements from the Cuban Missile
Crisis to his bravery and courage in the Vietnam conflict. I will
just say that in prison after the treatment had improved rather
dramatically I had the great fun and privilege of living in the
same cell with him for a couple of years. I think I found his
company a lot more agreeable than he found mine, given my always
even-tempered, unemotional approach to things. And although Jerry
is a lousy bridge player, I have never known a more kind and
generous American. I am very proud that for so many years he has
traveled the country giving inspirational talks to people from all
walks of life and every strata of America - not only because he has
a compelling story but because of his particular fashion of
describing the attributes associated with duty, honor, and our
John McCain, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Vietnam POW 10/26/67 - 3/14/73; United States Senator, Arizona, 1986 present I have always had this unusual fetish for movies about prisoners of war. In Stalag 17, I was fascinated by how the prisoners in Europe found ways to entertain themselves. After the Sontay raid in 1970 we were finally allowed to be assembled together. I had the privilege of getting to know Jerry Coffee in early 1972. Room 2 held a group of reprobates about 25 strong. By this time, we d been there five, six, seven years and were pretty cynical about life. The torture had mostly stopped and we were just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the big bombing raids to happen so we could imagine going home someday in the next decade. Then Jerry, who was quite a bit more high-classed than the rest of us, was brought into our midst. There were a number of Marines in the room. John McCain was there, too. We were all groping for ways to entertain ourselves. So Jerry moved in and we discovered he had talents as an artist. After that, he spent hours teaching me and a couple of other rather dumb, uncreative people to draw things using rouge colored roof tile [like chalk] on a concrete floor. Jerry taught me how to draw eyeballs, my specialty. I haven t pursued that career, but at least he brought some creativity into my life. Jerry Coffee is an incredible individual and eloquent speaker. I honestly believe I ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He is a wonderful, wonderful man I am incredibly blessed to have as a friend.
Orson Swindle, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.); Vietnam POW 11/11/66 3/4/73; Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, 1997-2005"