Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nixon library hosts reunion for Vietnam POWs

American POWs cheer March 4, 1973, as their 
C-141 plane lifts off from Gia Lam Airport on their way home after being released.

Associated Press (1973)

American POWs cheer March 4, 1973, as their C-141 plane lifts off from Gia Lam Airport on their way home after being released.

YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Navy Lt. Commander Doug Burns was on a night reconnaissance mission searching for enemy trucks when he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and taken prisoner during the Vietnam War.

Burns broke three vertebrae when he ejected into a flooded rice paddy and spent the first weeks of his captivity strapped to a concrete pallet and then months at a time in solitary confinement. His wife and three children didn't know for years if he was alive — and when he arrived home 6 1/2 years later, Burns learned his wife was leaving him.

"It was hard to take, but that's what it was," said Burns, now 78 and remarried. "At least I'm alive. There are a lot of guys who aren't."

On Thursday, Burns and 200 other Vietnam-era POWs, almost all former pilots, reunited for a three-day celebration at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum that coincides with the 40th anniversary of a star-studded White House dinner hosted by President Nixon to honor their sacrifice.

At the time, Nixon was embroiled in Watergate, but the former prisoners, now in their 60s and 70s, credit him with their freedom after nearly 600 were released in spring 1973. Nixon resigned a little more than a year after the dinner as he faced near-certain impeachment.

"He was a hero to us. He will always be revered by us as a group because he got us home, and we didn't know how we were going to get home," said retired Marine Capt. Orson Swindle.

Reminding Americans of that legacy — and not Watergate — will be front and center this weekend at the POW reunion, which began Thursday with a motorcade and military flyover.

Nixon library hosts reunion for Vietnam POWs 05/23/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. My AP Top 25 ballot: UCF moves into the top 15, Michigan falls out

    Blogs

    No major changes in my latest AP Top 25 ballot.

  2. Forecast: Cold front on the way, but still upper 80s in Tampa Bay Sunday

    Weather

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay's heat is about to break, but Sunday will still see temperatures in the high 80s, meteorologists forecast.

    Tampa Bay should see temperatures in the upper 80s Sunday with a chance for showers late. [Courtesy 10News WTSP]
  3. Lutz driver dead after crash with semi on Dale Mabry Highway

    Accidents

    LUTZ — A 68-year-old driver died Saturday night in a crash with a semitrailer truck on Dale Mabry Highway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  4. Toddler, 1, drowns in spa at birthday party in Trinity

    Accidents

    TRINITY — A toddler drowned at a birthday party Saturday evening and died at the hospital, authorities say, after his parents found him in a spa.

  5. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.