Speaker Ryan Pays Tribute to His Hero, Sam Johnson | Speaker.gov

Do you know what his captors called him? 

A “die-hard.”

There was just no breaking the man. Starvation. Torture. Leg irons. Leg stocks. Solitary confinement. A ‘bed’ that was no more than a slab of cement. The Vietnamese tried everything. To think that after all of it – after nearly seven years in the Hanoi Hilton – this pilot would go on to fly more missions and serve in the United States Congress. 

So it was that on February 17, 1973, with joy and relief, Lt. Col. Sam Johnson stepped off the plane at Sheppard Air Force, reunited with his beloved Shirley. 

Today, 43 years on, Speaker Ryan pays tribute to the friend and colleague he calls “the greatest living man I know.”