Within the confines of his prisoner of war camp, Doug Hegdahl had more freedom than most. Amazingly, this was because he’d convinced his captors that he was illiterate and posed little threat. Indeed, the North Vietnamese soldiers who held him even called him “The Incredibly Stupid One.” But Hegdahl was far from a simpleton – and he’d outsmarted his jailers greatly to the advantage of his fellow prisoners.
Douglas Brent Hegdahl III, more commonly known simply as Doug, was born into a Norwegian Lutheran family in September 1946. He attended high school in his hometown of Clark, South Dakota, before enlisting with the U.S. Navy at 20 years of age.