Though it needs a few more highlights (to knock down the gray), this is a reasonable-enough rendering of Lt. David Carey's A-4E Skyhawk. The one he was flying when shot down over North Vietnam, August 31, 1967.
Growing up as a little kid, I had these impressions of the Vietnam War - Charles Manson, Hippies sitting in parks, Walter Cronkite, jungles, helicopters and Richard Nixon. Don't analyze the package - it was just my tiny brain processing the news.
And all the talk. Vietnam bad, Vietnam good.
And this pin that my mom wore. It read, "POWs never have a nice day" the words ringing a frowning face. To me, at age 5, I wondered what that meant. No Christmas? Oatmeal all the time? Did they sleep on rocks? Were they beat up?
So, fast forwarding to a day when a friend of mine said that he knew a Naval Aviator who'd been shot down and survived as a POW, I wondered what his "never a nice day" experience was like. Armed with his phone number, I called Dave, told him I drew airplanes and casually promised to draw his some day. In answer to my question, he sent me his book, "The Ways We Choose."
That was about seven years ago. Though I don't quite think he was pining for me to finish, Dave did wait too long for me to fulfill a promise.
I won't - I can't - summarize the book here. It's more than a blow-by-blow recollection of the infamous Hanoi Hilton. On top of the facts of nearly 6 years of imprisonment, Dave writes about the psychology of change and positive adaptation to negative circumstances. Today, he counsels businesses and organizations on how to endure and grow despite their arena.
Though I remain, for now, fixated on the era of propellor-driven aircraft, this A-4E was a welcome challenge and an honor to someone who truly turned a "...never nice day" into success for himself and many, many others.