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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Afternoon Visit With John Dramesi, Author of the Code of Honor

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Kylie and I in front of the Dramesi Estate
This afternoon, I had the honor of visiting Colonel John Dramesi, Vietnam Prisoner Of War and author of the Code of Honor, with several friends.  They had planned it as a graduation surprise for my girlfriend, Kylie, who greatly admired him after we read his book our junior year in American History and dreamt of meeting him in person.

After being dismissed early on our last day of high school, we made our way to his house, tucked away peacefully in the countryside.  The night prior, our friend had called Colonel Dramesi to request to visit him.  Upon arriving, we were surprised to find an astonishing building with beautiful architecture.

Colonel Dramesi and I in his office.
Upon walking to the door, we were greeted by Colonel Dramesi, who showed great hospitality and proceeded to give us a tour of his home.  We were surprised to find that his home was full of extravagant architecture, beautiful paintings, and loads of military artifacts.  Walking through his home was exceptionally exciting, as we saw many awards and items that we had read about in his book, including wrestling plaques and many military awards.  It felt like we were in an art gallery and a museum.  His house was both new and old.  He had essentially turned a farmhouse from the 1800s to a modern home through the addition of new pieces that revolved around the entire original house.

Dramesi’s Chess Board
He led us to his office, a large addition that he had designed himself.  Everything from the fireplace to the floor had been designed with thought, and it was clear that he was an architectural genius.  He then proceeded to show us several artifacts from the war, including a beautiful chess board with pieces that he had bought in Vietnam.  He told us an interesting story about how he had found and purchased enough pieces for an entire chess board and had half of them gold plated to differentiate them.  However, before he was able to pick them up, he had been captured by the Vietcong as a Prisoner Of War.  Interestingly, the man who had recorded his suspected death had found the records that Colonel Dramesi had paid to have the pieces gold plated and managed to retrieve them for him after he was freed.
A Brick from the Hanoi Hilton
Another interesting artifact that he held was a brick from the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous Vietnam prison camp where he had been held.  It had been retrieved after the war had ended.

Colonel Dramesi then gave us a tour of the rest of his house, stopping to explain several pieces and experiences that he had had.  One interesting thing that he told us about was the experience of free falling for 90 seconds.  Upon approaching a picture of someone free falling, he described the rush and how one must properly release a parachute.  He stated that most free falls only last for a period of 9 to 10 seconds, but he had fallen for a total of 90.

Colonel Dramesi is truly one of the most interesting people that I have ever met.  He showed us many other projects that he had worked on, including a large vintage record player that he had wired to speakers throughout his house and even more impressive, pictures of several airplanes that he had actually engineered himself.  He had even designed a small jet airliner.

He then walked outside with us and described how he had genetically engineered an entire new breed of cattle.  Suddenly, what appeared to be an old, traditional farm turned out to be the work of a genius.  He stated that the cows that he had genetically engineered had a hanging weight of 2,800 pounds!

Colonel Dramesi was one of the most welcoming and intelligent people that I have ever met.  Upon reading his book, it is hard to imagine someone that demonstrates such leadership and nearly manages to escape the prison camps of Vietnam twice.  Very few people could survive and resist the torture and pain that he went through for seven years, but after meeting him, it became apparent that he was the kind of person that could.  I am honored that I was able to meet him and hope that our paths cross again in the future.
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  1. Neat story -- thanks!

  2. Really enjoyed coming across your story and photos. I became friends with John after having coffee together in the Philadelphia airport back around 1980. We were both active duty military at the time but in different countries and only stayed in touch briefly. It's nice to see he's well.

  3. As a young Airman stationed at Plattsburgh AFB, Col. Dramisi was the Vice Wing commander. I remember purchasing Code of Honor and going to his office to see if he would sign it for me. As I presented myself and my request he stood, shook my hand and signed my book. "From One Good American to Another". I carried that book to every assignment and duty station for 20 years. It rests in my library and has been read numerous times. I have always wondered what Col. Dramisi was doing all these years and its great to know he's alive and well!

  4. After reading your account of what happened between you and Colonel Dramesi, I am very interested in reading more of your blog. I too am a military man. I have written a book, you may have heard of it, "Bondage". It is about my time spent tied up in the boot of a truck with my friend who is a Vietnam veteran. Anyways, if you are interested in visiting my house I have a number of exciting artifacts I would be more than willing to show you.

  5. I met Colonel Dramesi when I was stationed at Plattsburgh AFB, NY. I was in Public Relations and had the honor of interviewing him for the base newspaper. I was so impressed with him. I had read his book before I interviewed him. We talked about his experiences and his plans for the future. Just a wonderful man.



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