Charlie Plumb was born in 1942 in Gary, Indiana. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy on June 5, 1960, and was commissioned an Ensign upon graduation on June 3, 1964. After completing flight training and being designated a Naval Aviator, Plumb completed F-4 Phantom II Replacement Air Group training, and then joined VF-114 at NAS Miramar, California, and later deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). LTJG Plumb began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia off the Kitty Hawk in January 1967, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War while flying his 75th combat mission on May 19, 1967. After spending 2,103 days in captivity, LCDR Plumb was released during Operation Homecoming on February 18, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries, and then left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve on January 10, 1974. Capt Plumb served with the Naval Reserve flying the A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair II, and F/A-18 Hornet until his retirement on October 1, 1991. After returning from Vietnam, Charlie wrote an autobiography about his experience as a Prisoner of War titled "I'm No Hero".
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. In September 1967, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.