members of the armed forces in 1955. The
purpose of the code is to provide American
military personnel with a standard of conduct
should they be captured by an enemy. It provides
a framework of ideals and ethical standards that
will help personnel resist the physical, mental, and
moral onslaughts of their captor.
In 1988 President Ronald Reagan issued
Executive Order 12633, amending the code to use
gender-neutral language. First expressed in written
form in 1955, the code is based on time-honored
concepts and traditions that date back to the days
of the American Revolution.
I am an American, fighting in the
forces which guard my country and our
way of life. I am prepared to give my life
in their defense.
No matter what your job, you are a member
the team first. Your duty is to oppose the
enemies of the United States under all
I will never surrender of my own free
will. If in command I will never surrender
the members of my command while they
still have the means to resist.
Even when a situation seems hopeless, you
often still have a chance to win. Remember John
Paul Jones! As long as you have the means to
resist, you must continue to do so. If you no
longer have weapons, ammunition, or other
means, you have the duty to evade capture and
attempt to rejoin friendly forces.
If I am captured I will continue to resist
by all means available. I will make every
effort to escape and aid others to escape.
I will accept neither parole nor special
favors from the enemy.
Even as a prisoner, you still have a weapon
for resistance. That weapon is your mindthe
determination to resist and to escape. Stay
mentally and physically able to seize any
opportunity to escape. By maintaining the burn-
ing determination to resist and escape, you keep
your mind alert. These have been the ingredients
in the stories of the personnel of all branches of
the armed forces who have escaped from the
Never risk placing yourself under obligation
to the enemy by accepting favors; the enemy will
exploit to the utmost any weakness you show.
If I become a prisoner of war, I will
keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will
give no information or take part in any
action which might be harmful to my
comrades. If I am senior, I will take
command. If not, I will obey the lawful
orders of those appointed over me and will
back them up in every way.
Fellow prisoners are your friends in a prison
camp. Jealously guard and protect that friendship.
Do nothing and say nothing that would jeopar-
dize a fellow prisoner. Article 105 (Misconduct
as Prisoner) of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice (UCMJ) provides for punishment of any
person who jeopardizes a fellow prisoner. This
includes anyone who causes damage or harm to
other prisoners, of whatever nationality, for the
purpose of gaining personally favorable treat-
ment. It also includes anyone who cruelly treats
or abuses fellow prisoners while in a position of
You must always resist the enemys attempts
to break down your faith in fellow prisoners. The
enemy will use various tactics to attempt to shatter
the unity of the prisoners. A prisoner may be
singled out for special sessions with the captors.
The captors may appoint one person as their
representative among the prisoners. The captors
may take one of the prisoners away from the
group for an extended period of time and then
return the prisoner with no explanation. All of
these tactics are designed to destroy the prisoners
faith in one another. If the captors are successful,
mistrust will grow, individuals will lose faith in
each other, and the group will disintegrate into
a dog-eat-dog struggle for survival.
All military prisoners in the camp are subject
to the lawful orders of the senior officer present,
just as they would be aboard ship. Should you
happen to be senior, you will assume command.
An organization must be established to carry out
activities such as care of the sick and wounded,
camp sanitation, and escape and resistance
planning. Normally, your captors will not permit