The Spy in the Hanoi Hilton

Prisoner being escorted to Hanoi Hilton
Credit- National Archives
The Spy in the Hanoi Hilton
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This film reveals the last best kept secret of the Vietnam War.  Hỏa Lò Prison was used by the Northern Vietnamese to hold and torture American POWs. The prison was sarcastically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, and held many aviators who had been shot down, including prominent figures such as John McCain and Jim Stockdale. Throughout their captivity prisoners inside the Hanoi Hilton were in contact with the CIA through ever more sophisticated methods of communication.  What started with coded messages in letters, and developed into encrypted text hidden smuggled into the camp inside dried fruit. The ability to establish communications with the prisoners led to a secret rescue mission that remained classified for forty years.

“An amazing and powerful film”- Captain Gordon Peterson, Military Times

Behind The Scenes

Before the story of the secret communications could be made public, seven department heads at the CIA had to authorize its release, with the personal intervention of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff required to make the film a reality. The story is told through classified recordings made by Admiral James Stockton who ran the program and was debriefed by the Naval Intelligence upon his return from Hanoi.  

Produced For
Smithsonian Channel
Historical Consultant
Dr. James Stockdale
Vincent Kralyevich
David C. Taylor
Senior Associate Producer
Amanda Fox
David C. Taylor
Bob Kanner