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USNA News Center

Stockdale Center Launches POW Remembrance Challenge

  POSTED ON: Sunday, February 12, 2023 6:00 AM by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah M. Thielen

ANNAPOLIS, Md. –  On the 50th anniversary of their repatriation, Feb. 12, the U.S. Naval Academy will come alive with an interactive exhibit that engages audiences with the riveting history of the Vietnam prisoner of war (POW) experience, “Returned with Honor,” a remembrance challenge hosted by the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership.

Returned with Honor tells the story of the defiant American Vietnam POWs and their devoted wives and families’ unwavering commitment to country and family. The challenge will allow participants to witness first-hand accounts of American POWs’ courage and ingenuity during the Vietnam War through scanning QR codes located at 19 iconic Naval Academy locations. 

QR code example

“It gives us a chance to give more context about the things the POWs went through,” said Michael Sears, director of Leadership Innovation at the Stockdale Center. “This is a learning experience that is unique to the Naval Academy. Nowhere else could students and civilians alike learn about the leadership challenges these POWs face in such an immersive way, and on the grounds of the institution where many of them spent their formative years.”

The combined scavenger hunt and walking tour of the yard commemorates the service and sacrifice of the 591 American POWs who returned home from North Vietnam as part of Operation Homecoming, which began Feb. 12, 1973.

Fifty years ago, Phase I of Operation Homecoming brought the first group of recovered Vietnam War POWs into Clark Air Base in the Philippines. After stops in Hawaii and California, they had finally returned to live their lives as free Americans. The mission ultimately returned 325 Airmen, 138 Sailors, 77 Soldiers, 26 Marines and 25 civilians.

The interactive exhibit is free and open to the public. 

“The big takeaway is, although there is a competitive component to the event, it is meant to be a serious evolution,” said Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Kirsta Wheelock. “It's an interactive learning experience that will hopefully stick with people longer than watching a documentary. The Forrestal at the beginning of the semester was extremely well received by the Brigade and left many people wanting to know more about the experience of the visiting POWs. This challenge is the perfect opportunity to learn more.”


Category: General Interest