The Nation: Beyond the Worst Suspicions

On Aug. 3, 1966 TIME's Donald Neff, then a Saigon correspondent, interviewed Air Force Ace Major James Kasler—one of the legendary figures of the Viet Nam War—just after his 72nd mission. The story that went to press that week dubbed Kasler a "one-man Air Force" and perhaps the "hottest" pilot in Southeast Asia. Five days later, Kasler buckled into the cockpit of his F-105 Thunderchief for his 73rd—and last—mission. His plane was hit by ground fire, and he was forced to eject. He was held prisoner until a month ago. Last week Neff again interviewed Kasler, now a full colonel, at...

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