Tag Archives: Vietnam War

National POW-MIA Recognition Day

POW-MIABy Lynn R. Mitchell

Arizona Senator John McCain. Virginia’s Naval Commander Paul Galanti.

These are two who sacrificed for America during the Vietnam War when they were captured by the North Vietnamese and held captive for almost six years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. There are no words to express the gratitude necessary for those who endured the horrors at the hands of the enemy during that war.

Today Americans across the nation honored prisoners of war (POW) who made it home, and paused to remember those who are still missing in action (MIA):

There are 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, as of April 2009. The number of United States personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 841. About 90 percent of the 1,741 people still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control, according to the National League of Families website (cited in the United States Army website).

See also Talking over iced tea with living history … former POW Paul Galanti and Richmonder Phyllis Galanti … quiet POW crusader passes away, leaves legacy.

 

 

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Memories before the dreaded but necessary Vietnam commemoration

Vietnam WallBy Daniel P. Cortez

In compliance with federal mandates, ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be held throughout Virginia this year and next.

Like millions who have waited decades for America to right the wrongs of a conflicted society that dishonored military men and women, I simply followed the military directives of the commander-in-chief. I should feel proud, but such pride carries a painfully cognitive price.

A scared but proficiently trained Marine lance corporal, I arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam, one day after my 19th birthday in 1970. Landing in a combat zone was accentuated as Marines, armed for battle, were directed to deplane first.

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Life as a Vietnam prisoner of war, in the words of John McCain

By Lynn R. Mitchell

John McCain 1

Navy Pilot John McCain was captured after his plane crashed in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese for 5.5 years. This photo was taken of him after his capture in a Hanoi hospital with a fractured right leg and both arms.

 “For those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.” – Unknown

~~~

“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
– Donald Trump, speaking about Senator John McCain, 7/18/2015

I’m tired of Donald Trump. His 15 minutes of fame are over as far as the 2016 presidential convention, in my opinion, but I feel it’s important to contrast a life of privilege — Trump — with a life of service to country — John McCain, his father, and grandfather.

If you don’t read anything else about the debacle that is Trump bashing Senator John McCain’s service as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War and his five-plus years as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton with men like Richmond’s Paul Galanti, read this Washington Post article (see What Donald Trump was up to while John McCain was a prisoner of war):

As McCain remained in solitary confinement, tapping messages on the filthy walls to his fellow POWs in Morse code, Trump was out partying at legendary nightclubs. … On March 14, 1973, McCain arrived back in America a physically broken man, but also a hero. That word has yet to be applied to Trump.

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Talking over iced tea with living history … former POW Paul Galanti

Paul Galanti 3By Lynn R. Mitchell
[Reprinted from SWAC Girl on August 20, 2006.]

Quick! Someone pinch me! I thought I had a conversation over iced tea with living history … former Vietnam POW and American hero Paul Galanti….

Not only did we have a discussion but he paid for my iced tea. He … a Navy fighter pilot who spent almost seven years in a stinking hole in Vietnam as a prisoner of war … bought me iced tea.

It was I who should have bought him … the world.

Flash back to 1967, front cover of Life magazine. Seated on a stark wooden bench, alone, in those Asian pajama outfits they wore, was a dark-haired young man staring directly at the camera.

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The story behind the POW/MIA flag

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My Vietnam era Air Force veteran husband always includes the POW/MIA flag in tribute – Memorial Day 2015.

By Lynn R. Mitchell

June 14, 2015 … Flag Day, a tribute to our red, white, and blue American flags. But what about those stark black-and-white POW/MIA flags that are often seen flying in conjunction with the American flag? How did they come to be?

Wreaths Across America shared the history of the POW/MIA flag from History.com:

You see it everywhere—the stark, black-and-white POW/MIA flag—flying in front of VA hospitals, post offices and other federal, state and local government buildings, businesses and homes. It flaps on motorcycles, cars and pickup trucks. The flag has become an icon of American culture, a representation of the nation’s concern for military service personnel missing and unaccounted for in overseas wars.

From the Revolution to the Korean War, thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors have been taken prisoner or gone missing. But it took the Vietnam War—and a sense of abandonment felt by wives and family members of Americans held captive—to bring forth what has evolved into the nation’s POW/MIA symbol.
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Memorial Day … a salute to those who did not come home

??????????By Lynn R. Mitchell
[Editor’s note: This is an encore post from Memorial Day 2014. Sadly, one gentleman in the story — our Vietnam War tunnel rat neighbor — passed away two weeks after this was written. He is not forgotten (see Husband, neighbor, friend, Vietnam vet … saying goodbye and Passings: Honoring a Vietnam veteran).]

It’s Memorial Day 2014. Our Korean War veteran neighbor stopped by the house this morning looking for my Vietnam-era vet husband who was across the street visiting with our Vietnam veteran neighbor. Now the three of them are sitting out there talking … one can imagine the conversation between these friends, neighbors, and military survivors.

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Veterans Day 2014: Their sacrifice enables our freedom

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Today we honor those who have sacrificed to enable our freedom.

At LynnRMitchell.com, two of our contributors are veterans. Today we thank them for their dedication to God and country. Contributor Daniel Cortez is a Marine Vietnam veteran who was wounded in 1970 and was decorated for extraordinary heroism in combat. Managing editor Kurt Michael is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran. My husband, a Southeast Asia-Vietnam era Air Force veteran, is flying American flags in front of our home along with the POW-MIA flag, a reminder of those who did not come back.

Grandfathers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors … heroes surround us.

As then-Governor Bob McDonnell, himself a U.S. Army veteran, noted in 2012, “The sacrifice of these heroes and their families makes it possible for us to continue to live and to freely pursue our dreams here in the greatest nation this world has ever known. Freedom is not free. Our brave veterans remind us of that every day. … I urge all Virginians to once again renew our pledge to all of those who are serving and have served: an eternally grateful Commonwealth and country stand forever ready to serve you. … We can’t just stop and recognize our heroes on one day. We must recognize them, serve them, and thank them every day. Our liberty depends upon their sacrifice.”

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Memorial Day … a salute to those who did not come home

??????????By Lynn R. Mitchell

It’s Memorial Day 2014. Our Korean War veteran neighbor stopped by the house this morning looking for my Vietnam-era vet husband who was across the street visiting with our Vietnam veteran neighbor. Now the three of them are sitting out there talking … one can imagine the conversation between these friends, neighbors, and military survivors.

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Richmonder Phyllis Galanti … quiet POW crusader passes away, leaves legacy

Paul Galanti 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

“Lonely the days and nights, my love, that we have been apart. It seems almost forever since I held you to my heart. The moments are as restless as the waves that move the sea, but every second means a step nearer, my love, to thee.”

— POW Paul Galanti’s words to wife Phyllis after his release as a POW during Vietnam War, a poem he had shared with her before they married

Phyllis Galanti burst onto the world stage when her husband, Paul Galanti, a Navy fighter pilot shot down over Hanoi in 1966, became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. She had never wanted to be in the spotlight, this quiet and unassuming lady, but in 1971, five years after her husband’s capture and imprisonment at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” she took her battle to have him released to the people of Virginia, America, and the world, and became a national celebrity.

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