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How Purpose Helped Captain Plumb Survive as a POW (ep. 374)

Retired aviation pilot Captain Charlie Plumb joins John O’Leary on the Live Inspired Podcast to share the power of purpose + appreciating the value of challenge.

Former Navy fighter pilot Captain Charlie Plumb is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Scheduled to be his 75th and final mission in Vietnam, Charlie’s F-4 Phantom Jet was shot down + captured. He’d spend the next 2,103 days isolated + tortured in North Vietnamese Prisoner of War camps.

Four years ago I had the honor of having Charlie on the show + during our conversation, he deeply moved me when he attributed his survival to his faith and ability to forgive.

Today, I’m sharing a fresh cut of this episode with you because the lessons within it have never been more relevant:

  • Purpose provides the strength to endure the unthinkable
  • Appreciating the value of challenge

No matter how your 2021 has looked so far, Charlie’s story will remind you that the best is yet to come.

Listen + subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio


  • “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
  • The POWs held captive the longest came back with a lower rate of PTSD because great leadership unified us under a mission statement: Return with honor.
    • Charlie mentions past guest Michaela Haas and how we can actually cultivate resilience through post traumatic grown. Learn more on Live Inspired Podcast ep. 4 here.
  • Against therapists advice, Charlie was never bitter about his first wife filing for divorce without his knowledge and instead chose to appreciate how it fueled his hope to survive.
  • Captain Charlie Plumb’s advice for those who feel imprisoned:
    • Look at the value of challenge. Adversity is a horrible thing to waste.
    • Take a risk + get outside your comfort zone.
    • Build a community of support.

My conversation with Captain Charlie Plumb first aired in May 2017. Listen to that here.


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