For Immediate Release: Contact: Natalie
Ravitz or Sarah Misailidis August 30, 2007 (202) 224-8120
DEFENSE DEPARTMENT AGREES PURPLE HEART ELIGIBILITY
SHOULD BE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE ALL POWS WHO DIE IN CAPTIVITY
Washington, D.C. - The Department of Defense has finally
agreed to a long-time request by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and is recommending that the President expand eligibility
for the Purple Heart to all prisoners of war who die in captivity, regardless of the cause of death.
only POWs who die during their imprisonment of wounds inflicted by an instrument of war meet the criteria for posthumous Purple
Heart recognition. Those who die of starvation, disease, or other causes during captivity do not.
In a letter to
the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu stated that the Department advised changing
the Purple Heart eligibility criteria to include all POWs who die in captivity.
"I am so pleased that the Defense
Department has finally agreed that Purple Heart eligibility should be expanded to include all prisoners of war who died
in captivity," Senator Boxer said. "General George Washington wrote that we should honor with the Purple Heart, 'not only instances
of unusual gallantry but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service.' Those brave Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice
as prisoners of war should be eligible for this honor. I hope the President will act swiftly on the Defense Department's recommendation-the
families of our fallen POWs deserve no less."
In December 2005, Boxer first introduced the "Honor Our Fallen Prisoners of
War Act," legislation to expand eligibility of the Purple Heart to all POWs who die in captivity.
In March of this
year, Senator Boxer and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) wrote to President Bush expressing their disappointment that the Administration
missed a congressionally-mandated deadline for a decision on expanding eligibility. Section 556 of the National Defense Authorization
Act of 2007 required the President to submit a report to Congress on expanding eligibility for the Purple Heart to include
all those who die in a prisoner of war camps-including those who cause of death is unknown.
prisoners of war have died while in captivity since December 7, 1941 - the start of World War II. More than 8,000 Korean
War servicemen and more than 1,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
Congressman Filner Announces Victory for Deceased POWs
Bob Filner's bill, Honor Our Fallen Prisoners of War, to present a posthumous Purple Heart to the families of POWs who
had previously been overlooked, has been approved for implementation by the United States Department of Defense (DoD).
only POWs who die during their imprisonment, of wounds inflicted by an instrument of war, are eligible for posthumous Purple Heart
recognition. Those who die of starvation, disease, abuse or other causes while imprisoned are not eligible. Congressman
Filner's bill corrects this injustice. "This distinction is arbitrary, and it does not make any sense. Every soldier
who dies while imprisoned by an enemy of war should be recognized and honored!" said Congressman Filner.
was included as a section in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2007, which passed in October of 2006 and directed
the President and the DoD to review the criteria used to determine eligibility for the award of the Purple Heart for
POWs. The review has been completed, and the report has been released to Chairman Ike Skelton of the House Armed Services
Committee and to Chairman Carl Levin of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"The report says that changing the
eligibility criteria for the Purple Heart has merit for POWs who die while in captivity and who are eligible for the
Prisoner-of-War Medal, which includes virtually all POWs," said Congressman Filner.
Senator Barbara Boxer introduced
the companion bill in the Senate. The inspiration for the bill came from Wilbert "Shorty" Estabrook of Selma, Texas,
who was imprisoned during the Korean War for over three years, and Rick and Brenda Tavares of Campo, California. Brenda's
uncle, Corporal Melvin Morgan, died of starvation and beatings in 1950 at the age of 20 in Korea. # # #
Controversy Builds About the Prevalence of PTSD in Vietnam Veterans
As most of you know there is a raging battle since Vietnam of
what constitutes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is it curable, or is it only treatable with minimizing some of the
effects of PTSD, is it even recognizable in its infancy, is it a life long disorder, how long does it take to diagnose, how
many visits, and what is the proper methodology; and on and on.
In addition, there seems to be a battle between the medical
doctors and the psychologist and psychiatry in general regarding this issue.
I cannot stress enough the lack of taking into consideration
the neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric effects of the herbicides used in Vietnam. That is the first rule of DSM-IV.
Yet, it seems it has been totally ignored because of the Veterans
cost and possible incrimination of the toxic chemicals themselves.
NEUROLOGICAL AND NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EFFECTS
Many times, I have posted findings of Ranch Hand found
neuropsychological disorders, Army Chemical Corps findings of increased mental disorders, IARC findings of personality changes
when exposed to the dioxin, TCDD, Dow Chemical statements made in 1965 of neuropsychological disorders associated, Harvard
medical studies, EPA has reported mental faculties disorders which I would think could be found as PTSD symptoms or at least
confused as part of the diagnosis. If one looks at the reports of mental disorders found significant, not diagnosed
as PTSD but found as separate issues such as mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, panic attacks, depression; Ranch Hand
alone found statically significant excess in - psychological disorders of depression,
somatization, and severity of psychological distress. Antisocial and paranoid scores were significantly higher along
with psychotic delusion. I would also add in the chemical company workers themselves sent into clean up toxic spills,
forest workers, rail road workers and the increase in suicides is also part of this complicated equation.
Even the CDC noted:
In the 1988 Psychosocial Characteristics part of the
Vietnam Experience Study (VES), <172> the CDC found that among Vietnam veterans, certain psychological problems
were significantly more prevalent, including depression (4.5% vs. 2.3%; odds ratio = 2.0; 95% C.I. = 1.3 - 1.8) and generalized
anxiety (4.9% vs. 3.2%; odds ratio = 2.0; 95% C.I. = 1.1 - 2.1). About 15% of Vietnam, veterans experienced combat-related
posttraumatic stress disorder at some time during their military service. Depression and anxiety were not restricted
to the group of veterans having posttraumatic stress disorder.
If you took three or four of these disorders
as a sum rather than individual disorders in a report could you not diagnose at PTSD or did you miss PTSD. I think the
answer is obvious and very confusing as what part is trauma and what part is a neurotoxic chemical. So yes, it is no
wonder doctors have a hard time defining what is PTSD in Vietnam Veterans. Moreover, certainly this why in some cases
decades after the trauma our Vietnam Veterans are diagnosed with PTSD as the toxic chemical effects manifest.
Nevertheless, assuming there were no toxic
chemicals; can we put a time line on as VA has done in the past with the toxic chemical damages? The answer is no.
Many Veterans turned to drugs, many to alcohol
or both and some turned into working themselves to death to avoid the confrontations.
As they get older, they can no longer work
as they once did and finally they have to admit there is an issue and have been in their life since their return from war.
They have to admit that in many cases, they were wrong and it was not the world and their family that was wrong in every case.
Most of these men will not have made many
friends since returning from Vietnam. They may have workers at work they have to get along with or in some cases not
and they lose their job. They have a few acquaintances but that is about it as a strong indicator.
Now I did not make this up. This is
a result of talking to two VA mental health doctors for at least 16 weeks twice a week that run a very good program on recovery.
The one thing that really disturbed me was
the one doctor said in 16 years no one from VA benefits had called him to discuss a case. How VA can deny any case without
talking to the treating VA doctor is about out of my capability to rationalize. Obviously, they can and do more often
I think from my experience with these doctors
the first thing is to get the Veteran that there is a potential problem early on and his or her life certainly will have better
quality. That he or she is given the tools to recognize the symptoms and then seek treatment in both counseling as well
as medication if needed.
Below is the article and this continuing saga
Swirls Around PTSD in Vietnam Vets
| Law & Health Week | August 31, 2007
Builds About the Prevalence of PTSD in Vietnam Veterans
Newswise — Controversy continues to swirl concerning the
findings of a landmark study that estimated the percentage of Vietnam veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder
stress experts have renewed a clash over the results of the 1988 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), which
originally estimated that 30.9 percent of veterans endure the effects of PTSD during their lifetime, and that 15.2 percent
still suffered from PTSD more then ten years after the war. The actual prevalence of PTSD in veterans is vigorously
debated among the field’s leading researchers, with long-lasting public policy implications for veterans of all U.S.
wars, including the current conflict in Iraq.
by several parties involved are reported in the August issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, published by the International
Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS).
Dohrenwend, PhD, of Columbia University, et al. conducted a recent reanalysis of the NVVRS, which found an 18.7 percent prevalence
rate of lifetime war-related PTSD and 9.2 percent of current PTSD at the time of the study. The authors say that the
finding of lower rates is the result only of differences in the definition of the disorder and does not represent a significantly
lower total number of soldiers impacted.
The key finding
of their study, according to Dohrenwend et al., was that the NVVRS confirms a “strong dose/response relationship between
severity of exposure to war-zone stressors and PTSD.” The more soldiers are exposed to the horrors of war, the
more likely they are to suffer from posttraumatic stress.
McNally, PhD, of Harvard University, argues that the original NVVRS and the more recent Dohrenwend reanalysis overestimated
the prevalence of PTSD in veterans by using faulty criteria for diagnosing the disorder. According to McNally, 5.4 percent
of Vietnam veterans showed clinically significant functional impairment at the time of the NVVRS study.
cases who exhibit no functional impairment is an important way to address a chief concern of the NVVRS’s critics,”
said McNally. “Not all emotional changes wrought by serving in a war zone are symptoms of disease or disorder.”
of experts disagree with McNally’s interpretation of the data, including the original authors of the NVVRS study.
William E. Schlenger, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, et al., claim McNally misrepresents the findings of Dohrenwend
et al.’s analysis.
erroneous statements and misrepresentations seem clearly to be not random,” said Schlenger et al. “Instead, they
appear to have been crafted to support a specific bias that has significant policy implications, i.e. that PTSD prevalence
among Vietnam veterans is a minor problem, and the real problem is veterans faking combat exposure and PTSD symptoms to qualify
for service-connected disability.”
According to Dean Kilpatrick, PhD, of the National Crime Victims
Research and Treatment Center Medical University, “In my view, the reexamination by Dohrenwend and colleagues is a major
contribution to this public policy debate…It confirms that most veterans of the Vietnam War were resilient, but that
an important subset continued to have PTSD over a decade after the war was over.”
on numbers and methods, the experts concur that the government has a responsibility to adequately treat veterans with PTSD.
“Regardless of [frequency], the central issue is whether resources are sufficient to meet current demand,” said
McNally. “The key question is, 'If a veteran seeks mental health care, will that be able to obtain prompt access
to state-of-the-art, evidence-based [care]?’ If not, then we must increase resources."
Society for Traumatic Stress Studies is an international multidisciplinary, professional membership organization that promotes
advancement and exchange of knowledge about severe stress and trauma.
2007 Military.com. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.
From the August issue of the Journal of Traumatic
Stress, published by the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) via Military.com.
Note the disagreement with these study results by the one of the original authors of the NVVRS study, William E. Schlenger.
POW Benefits Act Introduced
Military.com | March 05, 2007
Rep. Gus Bilirakis Introduces Bill to Improve POW Disability Compensation
Legislation would add additional medical conditions that are eligible for disability compensation
H.R. 1197 establishes presumptions for disability compensation for several diseases, including Type II Diabetes and Osteoporosis. This will allow former POWs to claim these
disabilities as service-connected and qualify them for disability compensation.
Additionally, this legislation establishes a system by which the Department of Veterans' Affairs
(VA) can determine future presumption conditions for former POWs. Under H.R. 1197, the VA Secretary would have to review the
recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Former Prisoners of War and all other sound medical and scientific information
and analysis available to him when making these determinations. This allows greater responsiveness and flexibility for the
VA in addressing the medical and disability concerns of the brave men and women who have served in America's Armed Forces.
"During my campaign I promised veterans across America that I would be a strong advocate for
their causes," Rep. Bilirakis said. "The sacrifices these men and women made will never be forgotten, and providing them with
the best possible medical services is only one step in honoring them."
New findings about our POWs left behind by the politicians in Vietnam. Kissinger and Nixon and others wrote off over
2000 POWs that we knew were alive at the end of the war.
Here is a bit of the information the interview with the authors of 'An Enormous Crime' had to discuss. This information
needs to be reported across this nation, and our concerns sent to this administration and Congress. This info is taken from
information about the book on www.Amazon.com: ------------------ Editorial Reviews From Publishers Weekly
Book Description The dramatic history of living American soldiers left in Vietnam, and the first full account of the
circumstances that left them there.
An Enormous Crime is nothing less than shocking. Based on thousands of pages of public and previously classified documents,
it makes an utterly convincing case that when the American government withdrew its forces from Vietnam, it knowingly abandoned
hundreds of POWs to their fate. The product of twenty-five years of research by former Congressman Bill Hendon and attorney
Elizabeth A. Stewart, An Enormous Crime brilliantly exposes the reasons why these American soldiers and airmen were held back
by the North Vietnamese at Operation Homecoming in 1973 and what these men have endured since.
Despite hundreds of postwar sightings and intelligence reports telling of Americans being held captive throughout Vietnam
and Laos, Washington did nothing. And despite numerous secret military signals and codes sent from the desperate POWs themselves,
the Pentagon did not act. Even in 1988, a U.S. spy satellite passing over Sam Neua Province, Laos, spotted the twelve-foot-tall
letters "USA" and immediately beneath them a huge, highly classified Vietnam War-era USAF/USN Escape & Evasion code in
a rice paddy in a narrow mountain valley. The letters "USA" appeared to have been dug out of the ground, while the code appeared
to have been fashioned from rice straw (see jacket photograph).
Tragically, the brave men who constructed these codes have not yet come home. Nor have any of the other American POWs
who the postwar intelligence shows have laid down similar codes, secret messages, and secret authenticators in rice paddies
and fields and garden plots and along trails in both Laos and Vietnam.
An Enormous Crime is based on open-source documents and reports, and thousands of declassified intelligence reports and
satellite imagery, as well as author interviews and personal experience. It is a singular work, telling a story unlike any
other in our modern history: ugly, harrowing, and true.
From the Bay of Pigs, where John and Robert Kennedy struck a deal with Fidel Castro that led to freedom for the Bay of
Pigs prisoners, to the Paris Peace Accords, in which the authors argue Kissinger and Nixon sold American soldiers down the
river for political gain, to a continued reluctance to revisit the possibility of reclaiming any men who might still survive,
we have a story untold for decades. And with An Enormous Crime we have for the first time a comprehensive history of America's
leaders in their worst hour; of life-and-death decision making based on politics, not intelligence; and of men lost to their
families and the country they serve, betrayed by their own leaders.
Former U.S. Rep. BILL HENDON (R-NC) served two terms on the U.S. House POW/MIA Task Force (1981-1982 and 1985-1986);
as consultant on POW/MIA Affairs with an office in the Pentagon (1983); and as a full-time intelligence investigator assigned
to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs (1991-1992). He has traveled to South and Southeast Asia thirty-three
times on behalf of America's POWs and MIAs. Hendon is considered the nation's foremost authority on intelligence relating
to American POWs held after Operation Homecoming and an expert on the Vietnamese and Laotian prison systems. He lives in Washington,
ELIZABETH STEWART's father, Col. Peter J. Stewart (USAF), is missing in action in North Vietnam. His name appears on
Panel 6E, Line 12, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth Stewart has spent more than two decades
researching intelligence relating to American POWs and MIAs. Her efforts have taken her from Capitol Hill to Cambodia, from
the South China Sea to the presidential palace in Hanoi, and to the most remote regions of northern Vietnam. An attorney,
she lives in central Florida.
Evan Knoll owns the dragster and Mrs. Melanie Troxel is the driver.
EVAN KNOLL TO FIELD VETERAN'S TRIBUTE DRAGSTER
Troxel To Drive Vietnam Veterans/POW-MIA Top Fueler
MI. - Drag racing philanthropist Evan Knoll will deliver a long overdue salute to America's military veterans during the
2007 NHRA POWERade Series season using an 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster as his billboard. Knoll will honor all
Vietnam Veterans with the entry driven by popular Melanie Troxel, which will compete in all 23 NHRA POWERade Series
races this season.
Knoll has dedicated this car to the memory of the 58,195 soldiers, sailors, airmen and
Marines who gave their lives in the line of duty in the Southeast Asia theatre along with the 304,704 who were wounded
in action. All told, almost 1.6 million members of the United States military saw combat action during the conflict.
The highest troop concentrations reached 543,482 during April of 1968.
"And they got anything but a hero's
welcome when they returned home," Knoll said. "In fact, it sickens me to think of the ways these brave soldiers were
treated when they arrived back in the United States. They did what their country asked of them and regardless of what anyone's political
beliefs are, it's high time these men and women got the due respect they deserve. That is what this car is. It's a high-horsepower 'welcome
"Many of these soldiers were only kids who'd traveled tens of thousands of miles from the only homes
they knew into hostile actions that were no-win situations. From what I understand, there are still over 1,750 members
of the military still missing and unaccounted for."
Knoll hopes to bring awareness to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
in Washington, D.C., and to the half-scale version of the black marble wall that was created in 1996 and designed to
travel the U.S. His objective is to grow support for the preservation of this crucial monument through the Vietnam Veterans
The Vietnam Veterans Wall was dedicated in 1982 and was conceived with the purpose of bringing
long overdue honor and recognition to the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. Many of those
who survived were met with ridicule and contempt when they returned home. The Wall was created to right those wrongs and
for the most part, has served as a positive healing experience. The memorial sends a message to those who served in
the war as well as those impacted by it and also serves as a symbol of reconciliation and stands as a valuable history
lesson. More than 100,000 items associated with those who served in Vietnam have been left at the wall by visitors since
its dedication in 1982, all of which have been collected and preserved by the National Park Service.
excited about the opportunity to honor those brave soldiers who served.
"I wasn't old enough to understand what
was going on then, in Vietnam, but I feel privileged to be able to honor our soldiers now," Troxel said. "So many gave
of themselves, gave their lives for our country and they deserve a hero's welcome and all our thanks." The car will
draw attention to other worthwhile entities such as the POW/MIA Families (www.pow-miafamilies.org <http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/> ) and Vietnam Veterans of America (www.vva.org <http://www.vva.org/> ).
Troxel brings high caliber driving credentials to the table. She finished Number 4 in the final
NHRA POWERade Series standings for 2006, making a total of seven final round appearances while winning twice. Off the
track she was named Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation and was also nominated for two ESPY Awards.
inspirational dragster will also feature sponsorship from Torco Race Fuels, Inc., Knoll Gas Motorsports and Lucas Oil.
Former POWs Carry on American Resolve
Air Force Print News | Ssgt. Shad Eidson | September 18, 2006San Antonio, TX. Americans honored the nation's patriots
Sept. 15 during National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
They took part in ceremonies, parades and observances held across the country on military installations, ships at sea,
veterans' facilities and the Pentagon.
This day commemorated America's past patriots still missing in action and those who safely returned home from the hands
of the enemy. But it also was a day for today's Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines who continue serving.
Former POW, retired Maj. William;Roberts Jr., is proud of his son, Col. William;Roberts III, for accepting the risk and
serving as a B-1 Lancer pilot. When Major Roberts was a staff sergeant aerial gunner with the Army Air Corps assigned to the
463rd Bomb Group, his B-17G Flying Fortress was shot down July 7, 1944, near Velehrad, Czech Republic.
He spent 11 months as a POW in various camps in Poland. The camp commander then marched them out of Poland for four months
to stay ahead of advancing Russian troops. Major Roberts' mobile camp was liberated by a British tank force in May 1945 while
staying on an abandoned farm.
Major Roberts recalled many details of his conduct as a POW.
"You call up an inner self to do what is needed and to keep going," he said.
Major Roberts continues to honor POWs and MIAs by being a public speaker, a national director for the American Ex-Prisoners
of War and in several veterans' organizations. He honored them Sept. 15 by joining his son at the Lackland Air Force Base,
Texas, basic trainee graduation parade for the Air Force's newest Airmen.
While Major Roberts was fortunate to return home, there are more than 88,000 Americans from World War II to today's conflicts
still unaccounted for and listed as missing in action.
Being a POW or MIA in service to country is not solely reserved for active-duty members.
Roger;White Jr. of Amarillo, Texas, joined the Texas Army National Guard and served in an activated unit, the 2nd Battalion,
131st Field Artillery. While a sergeant, his unit left Pearl Harbor Dec. 3, 1941, by ship to support operations in the Netherland
East Indies before he and 901 Americans were captured by Japanese forces on the island of Java March 8, 1942.
While many would spend the next three and a half years in work camps throughout Burma, Thailand and Japan, Mr. White ended
up in Camp Fukuoka No. 2 in Japan. He survived "inhuman conditions" until he saw an American plane drop food and
supplies just before the camp was liberated in August 1945.
"Faith" and keeping his spirits up with the smallest things he could find allowed him to endure beatings and
times when he thought "this is it."
"The experience helped me a great deal in many ways. I became more understanding toward people," he said. "All
hardships you can overcome. The difficult we do immediately and the impossible -- takes a little longer."
Mr. White joined his daughter to observe POW/MIA Recognition Day by visiting the grave of his wife of 54 years and paying
his respects at the Fort Sam Houston cemetery. Still, as he does every day, his thoughts turned to his grandson, a captain
in the Army commanding a field artillery unit in Afghanistan.
His advice to those serving today is to serve proud and if captured, "Keep the faith, to never give up. Every one
of these guys (POWs) will tell you -- you can't give up."
POWs Visit Depot for Annual Reunion
Marine Corps News | Lcpl. James Green | September 18, 2006
MCRD San Diego, CA. - Seven of the original 203 U.S. Marines stationed in North China who were captured by the Japanese
the day Pearl Harbor was bombed graced the depot with their presence as part of their annual reunion on Sept. 8.
On Dec. 7, 1941, just two days before the Marines were scheduled to leave China, they awoke to see Japanese surrounding
them with weapons in hand. After being forced to give up their rifles, the Marines officially became prisoners of war.
From that day in 1941 through Sept. 15, 1945, the North China Marines were subject to slave labor and humiliation.
We were forced to work in coal mines and Japanese-owned factories doing iron work, cleaning bullet shells and even building
a replica of Mount Fuji, said Charles Darr, retired chief warrant officer.
After spending more than three years and seven months as a POW in four different camps, the experience still affects me
to this day,continued Darr.
For the first two weeks of World War II, the North China Marines remained at their barracks before being transferred to
Japanese-run POW camps in China by freight train. After less than four weeks in a camp in Beijing, some of them were separated
and sent to other camps throughout China and some were even to sent to camps in mainland Japan.
During the four-year course of World War II, it was not unusual for a North China Marine to be transferred to three or
four (of the nine) different camps before being released in 1945, said John Powers, historian and author of northchinamarines.com.
While their time spent in the camps was nightmarish due to malnutrition and harsh living environments, the training the
Marines had prior to this experience helped them to adjust to the Japaneses harsh treatment limiting the POW death toll to
nine during the course of the war.
The hardest part of being a POW was the hunger and humiliation, said Darr. Some meals would consist of as little as two
spoonfuls of rice.
The North China Marines were abused and treated as slaves over their time spent in captivity. The abuse even went as far
as death for Pfc. Max Neuse. In October 1944, Neuse was severely beaten with a steel bar by a civilian foreman, Yamasta, for
not issuing a salute as he walked by.
Yamasta screamed the Japanese word for salute and Neuse replied that he did not understand. He was then beaten to the
point of unconsciousness. Neuse died a month later from internal injuries as a direct result of that beating.
On Sept. 15, 1945, the last of the North China Marine POWs were all released after the Japanese emperor, Hirohito, made
his speech of unconditional surrender following the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The North China Marines were left at the abandoned camps for about three weeks after the surrender and subsisted on food
that was air-dropped by U.S. aircraft before they returned home to the United States.
Today, only 23 of the original 203 Marines captured by the Japanese on that fateful day of Dec. 7, 1941 live to tell the
tale of what life was like in Japanese POW camps during World War II.
Since 1963, survivors who are in good enough health to do so reunite with each other annually to bond and bear in mind
the years of agony they endured. They come together for three days to spend time with Marines who felt the same pain and lived
the same nightmare.
Now, more than 60 years after they graduated boot camp, the North China Marines came back to visit the depot they called
home for three months while attending recruit training. The tradition of coming together each year will continue for the few
North China Marines who are still able to attend to this day, as it has for the last 43 years.
As the Marines left, they took with them the memories they have from the past and present. Until next year, and the next
reunion, the Marines of North China spend their days knowing they survived some of the toughest years of their lives with
their brothers by their sides.
Navy Base Remembers Vietnam Aviator at POW/MIA Ceremony
Story Number: NNS060928-06
Release Date: 9/28/2006 3:46:00 PM
From Naval Support Activity Mechicsburg Public Affairs
MECHANICSBURG, Penn. (NNS) -- Hundreds of military, base employees, and veterans gathered to pay tribute to the memory
of Air Force Maj. John Francis Conlon III during a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) ceremony Sept. 21 at Naval
Support Activity (NSA) Mechanicsburg.
Conlon's remains were found in February, nearly four decades after the Cessna L-19A (O1E) "Bird Dog" reconnaissance
plane he was flying crashed in a South Vietnamese jungle.
The base has been holding this event since 1986. Historically, the annual event is a way of reminding the community of
America’s pledge to remember the sacrifices of our American prisoners of war and missing servicemen.
"While it is impossible to place a price tag on the sacrifices they knew and fully repay them for their service to
our great nation, we can offer our deepest appreciation for their commitment, loyalty, and extraordinary patriotism,"
said James McDermott, NSA Mechanicsburg employee and master of ceremonies.
Conlon, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., joined the Air Force at the age of 25, after completing college. He was a distinguished
graduate of officer training school at Lackland Air Force Base, then proceeded to Williams Air Force Base where he earned
his silver pilot's wings.
"He had always been infatuated by planes his entire life and was determined to be a military aviator, even though
he knew he would likely be sent to Vietnam," said Conlon's sister, Claire Evans, who was the guest of honor at the ceremony.
Conlon was four months into his tour of duty in Vietnam when, on March 4, 1966, he boarded the Bird Dog piloted by Air
Force Maj. Stuart M. Andrews. Two hours later, the plane was declared missing, but nothing turned up after an extensive air
and ground search over the next six days.
A search of the area turned up Andrew’s dog tag and, with the help of elderly Vietnamese, a team began excavating
the site Feb. 16, 2006, on what would have been Conlon’s 65th birthday. The team recovered four teeth and sent them
to a lab at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, which identified John’s remains 40 years, two months and 22 days after
he disappeared. A belt buckle, eye glass frames, and the emblems from Conlon's revolver were also recovered.
Vietnam veterans at the event said that it was a success.
"Out of all the POW/MIA programs that I have been involved with over the past 20 years, this one brought me the most
pride," said Vietnam veteran and base employee Robin Wilt. "When we send our young men and women into harm's way,
and they are killed, become a Prisoner of War or Missing in Action, it's comforting to know that we as Americans will do whatever
it takes to bring them home."
Conlon's remains will travel to Arlington National Cemetery for burial with full military honors Oct. 3.
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.
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