Episode 2443 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about the Amazing Vietnam War American POW’s. The featured story comes from the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Press Reader. It is titled: POW’s Came Home 50 Years Ago Today and was submitted by John Wilkens.
On February 12, 1973, fifty years ago, the process of bringing home 600 recently released American POW’s from the North Vietnamese prisons began. The Vietnam War is not known for its happy endings, but this was one.
Many of these brave Americans spent years suffering in those prisons after being shot down over North Vietnam. They had to survive beatings, solitary confinement, leg irons and ropes twisting body parts into unnatural positions to name a few their challenges.
The POW’s survived due to resiliency and teamwork. All those terrible things they faced strangely fueled success in what many came to call their “second lives” — a success so surprising it’s been studied by doctors and written about in books.
Two became U.S. senators, including John McCain, who also ran for president. Another was a vice-presidential candidate. Several were elected to state and national offices.
Others became doctors, lawyers, university professors, airline pilots, psychologists and ministers. Many of them stayed in the military, including two dozen who rose to the rank of general or admiral.
To cope with daunting challenges, they used a system of wall taps, finger and toe signals, and hidden notes to communicate, creating a code of conduct that not only allowed them to survive their torturers, but defy them.
When the POW’s came home, they became a national obsession. Contrary to the treatment issued to most Vietnam Veterans when they came home, the POW’s were lionized. They were lavished with attention and gifts that included lifetime passes to major league baseball games vacations, cars and more. Those who stayed in the military got their first pick of duty stations.
Listen to episode 2443 and discover more about the Amazing Vietnam War American POW’s.