The first American combat troops, 3,500 Marines from the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade based in Okinawa, Japan, arrived in South Vietnam in March 1965 to protect a U.S. air base in Da Nang. It was a start of a long and costly fight that saw more than 58,000 U.S. servicemembers killed and another 150,000 wounded over the next 10 years.

It was 9:30 p.m. when the doorbell rang. In the sleepy Navy town of Coronado, Calif., hardly anyone rings the doorbell. Sybil Stockdale, the wife of Navy attack pilot Cmdr. James Stockdale, is sleeping upstairs and doesn’t hear it, but soon wakes to the sounds of voices down below. Hurrying to the front door, she sees her friend, Doyen Salsig, also the wife of a naval flyer, who is accompanied by a Navy lieutenant. With trepidation, the young naval chaplain informs Sybil that her husband has been shot down while on a bombing mission over North Vietnam and is missing.