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Hanoi Hilton “Pajamas”
National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Hanoi Hilton “Pajamas”

Catalog #: 2004.0083.02, .03    Accession #: 2004.0083
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Republic of North Vietnam (Maker)

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 42" H x 34" W x 20" D

Physical Description

Top and bottom of red and white striped cloth which quickly faded to the pinkish gray color. Initials "CAC" stenciled on patch.

Specific History

These two-toned, "pink" striped "pajamas" were issued to and worn by Commander Allan "Al" Carpenter, USN, who was a Prisoner of War from November 1, 1966 to March 4, 1973. He was flying an A4E with VA-72. His Vietnamese name "CAC" is stenciled on the white aiming patch on the pajamas.

General History

Americans were held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam, but also in Cambodia, China, Laos, and South Vietnam.

From 1961 to 1973, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong held hundreds of Americans captive. In North Vietnam alone, more than a dozen prisons were scattered in and around the capital city of Hanoi. American POWs gave them nicknames: Alcatraz, Briarpatch, Dirty Bird, the Hanoi Hilton, the Zoo. Conditions were appalling; food was watery soup and bread. Prisoners were variously isolated, starved, beaten, tortured—for countless hours—and paraded in anti-American propaganda. "It's easy to die but hard to live," a prison guard told one new arrival, "and we'll show you just how hard it is to live."

American prisoners were held at the Hoa Lo prison, nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” from 11 August 1964 to 28 March 1973. The French built this prison near the turn of the century, with construction completed in 1901.


Countries: United States, Vietnam
War: Vietnam conflict
Service: Navy
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