DV Ca POW Reunion
About 200 Vietnam-era POWs gathered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a White House dinner hosted by President Nixon to honor their sacrifice.
Story No.: 836607
Date: 05/24/2013 11:38 AM
HEADLINE: Nixon library hosts reunion for Vietnam POWs
CAPTION: About 200 Vietnam-era POWs gathered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a White House dinner hosted by President Nixon to honor their sacrifice. (May 24)
Associated Press Video
Yorba Linda, California - May 23, 2013
1. Medium of high school band playing at welcome ceremony
2. Wide of red carpet at entrance to Nixon Presidential Library
3. Tight of high school girl playing coronet
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Charles Tyler, Former POW, held captive in Vietnam for 5 years "I try hard to remember the real truth, not what the 40 years... You know.
Some of the stories get better every time I tell them."
5. Wide of Tyler, his second wife, his children and his grandchildren in presidential library
6. Medium of entrance to POW exhibit
7. Wide of woman in wheelchair looking at exhibit
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Charles Tyler, Former POW, held captive in Vietnam for 5 years "We need to go back to Nixon. And then go back to Reagan too."
9. Wide of motorcyclists and flags in front of fountain
10. Tight of motorcyclist pointing
11. Wide of former POWs and their families getting out of buses
12. Medium of former POWs and their families walking
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Bill Austin, Former POW, attended dinner at White House
"5 and a half years - I was shot down October '67. Lived in at least 6 or
7 prisons, some of them twice. Moved around a lot. Had nearly 200 roommates while I lived over there - different Americans."
14. Wide of crowd and buses in front of Nixon presidential library
15. Tight of library docent clapping
16. Medium of library docents in red shirts
17. Tight of former POWs looking at seating chart inside exhibit
18. SOUNDBITE (English) Bill Austin, Former POW, attended dinner at White House "We were sitting right here at 20. I think John Wayne was at this table and Elizabeth Taylor was at that table I believe."
19. Medium of POWs and grandchildren looking at seating chart
20. SOUNDBITE (English) Bill Austin, Former POW, attended dinner at White House "This commemorates that event back then. Quite frankly, President Nixon was quite a hero for us. I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him."
21. Tight of patch on POW's blazer
22. Medium of POWs walking in parking lot
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Bill Austin, Former POW, attended dinner at White House "He certainly made the right decisions there are the end of the war. We'd probably still be fighting in Vietnam if we hadn't sent the B-52s in to Hanoi, into the downtown area there. People who were pulling the strings, they weren't getting bombed. They had no fear. 'We're losing a few people, but this is war.'
24. Medium of POWs on red carpet
25. Medium of docents in red blazers clapping
26. Tight of docent welcoming POWs
This weekend, about 200 former prisoners of war in Vietnam, almost all of them former pilots, are reuniting 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. Nixon resigned a little more than a year after the dinner as he faced near-certain impeachment.
Reminding Americans of that legacy - and not Watergate - will be front-and-center this weekend at the POW reunion, which began with a motorcade and tours of a special museum exhibit that focuses on the POWs'
The private Richard Nixon Foundation, which is hosting the event, has also recreated, down to the menu, the elaborate black-tie dinner that the president hosted for the POWs and their spouses 40 years ago this weekend.
Nixon wrote in his memoirs about the dissonance between the POWs'
adulation and the mounting Watergate crisis. But POWs who attended the event, however, recall only the thrill of meeting the president, rubbing shoulders with movie stars and dancing to a live band until 2 a.m.
The star-studded event included some of the most famous celebrities of the day, from Bob Hope and John Wayne to Sammy Davis Jr. and Liz Taylor.
The glamour was a far cry from what captives endured in North Vietnamese prison camps.
Through it all, the POWs waited for years for an end to the war and a freedom that never seemed to come. Meanwhile, in the U.S., anger and discontent over the conflict grew.
In December 1972, as peace talks stalled, Nixon authorized the biggest bombing of the war against North Vietnamese ports and factories. A second massive strike, known as the Christmas bombing, dropped explosives around Hanoi and the POWs heard the booming from their prisons.
A peace accord, formally signed in Paris on January 27, 1973, called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a cease-fire and the release of all POWs.
Two weeks later, the first planeload of freed prisoners landed on U.S.
The Christmas bombing was widely criticized at home, but the POWs believe it secured their freedom.
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Nixon," Tyler said. "We need to go back to Nixon. And then go back to Reagan too."
|Subjects:||Celebrity , Libraries , Prisoners of war , Hostage situations , War and unrest , Cease fires , Executive branch , Peace process , Entertainment , Arts and entertainment , Education , Social affairs , General news , Government and politics , Diplomacy , International relations|
|People:||Richard Nixon , John Wayne , Elizabeth Taylor , Bob Hope , Sammy Davis Jr.|
|Organisations:||Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, United States military, United States government|
|Locations:||Vietnam , United States , Hanoi , Southeast Asia , Asia , North America|