Chautauqua Lectures Series: Taps on the Walls
Lakeside welcomes John L. Borling, retired U.S. Air Force Major General and author of Taps on the Walls: Poems from the Hanoi Hilton , to share life lessons of courage, resilience and determination learned as a Vietnam War POW, highly decorated military officer and successful businessman this week. All are welcome to attend this lecture and honor Major General Borling.
The Eight Virtues of Leadership & More
10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 17
Orchestra Hall
Major General John Borling will provide insight and inspiration from the ages (and a prison cell), plus war and other stories designed to stimulate, entertain and interact with the audience. Copies of his book, Taps on the Walls, will be for sale at the conclusion of the program, and a book signing will follow the lecture.
Nation Building in America – What It Takes & More
10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 18
Orchestra Hall
In his second lecture, Borling will provide an interactive inquiry into the need for a practicable program to propel American endurance and prosperity. Experiences ranging from the White House to the outhouse, with a good bit in between, will provide for audience participation to include some laughter, tears and thoughts to “make the day.” Copies of his book, Taps on the Walls , will be for sale at the conclusion of the program, and a book signing will follow the lecture.
Major General John Borling
Major General John L. Borling (retired United States Air Force) is a man who never gives up. Throughout his life, Borling has demonstrated exceptional resilience and strength and will share his life experiences with Lakesiders at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 18 in Orchestra Hall as part of this week’s Chautauqua Lecture Series.
[Lakesiders Dr. James and Betty Jane Young met and became friends with Borling after James and Borling met as colonels in Germany.]
As a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War, Borling flew 96 fighter missions and was close to finishing his 100-mission tour, a practically unheard of achievement. However, Borling didn’t want to stop there.
“He called his wife, Myrna, and told her when he was done with his tour he wanted to do 100 more missions,” said Betty Jane.
However, Borling never got the chance. On his 97th mission, he was shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War (POW) at Hanoi Hilton in North Vietnam. Borling and other POWs used the tap code to communicate, commiserating, encouraging and joking with one another in an attempt to maintain their sanity in the grim conditions. During these dark times, Borling also used the tap system to express his poetry. Read more...
More on Major General John Borling
With the Air Force, Borling served worldwide in high level command and staff positions. He’s a graduate of the Air Force Academy, National War College and executive education at the JFK and Business Schools at Harvard University, and he was also a White House Fellow.
A fighter pilot, he was shot down by ground fire over North Vietnam. Seriously injured, he was captured while trying to evade and spent six and a half years as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi.
A Life Member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, former Trustee and Regent of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, a contributor to the anthology Gettysburg Replies and executive producer/narrator of “Old War Poems,” he speaks nationwide.

Currently, he occupies leadership positions in multiple business and civic organizations, including SOS America, and is Business Board Chairman of Synthonics, Inc., a bio tech company he founded.
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