Former Vietnam War POW reunion with fellow soldiers
By Austin Eck— Alton Meyer, retired U.S. Air Force, is originally from Fredericksburg, and like many men, he served his country in the Vietnam War.
On April 26, 1967, Meyer was captured, and he became a prisoner of war. During this time he was moved from camp to camp. At one point, he shared a cell with 56 other POWs. On March 4, 1973, 5 years, 10 months and 6 days after he was captured, he was freed.
On May 24, 1973, President Richard Nixon and the First Lady welcomed the recently freed POWs to the White House for dinner and entertainment. With the likes of Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr. and John Wayne attending, the night was joyous despite the heavy rain that forced everyone under tents.
“Quite a moving experience,” Meyers said when reflecting on the night.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the night, the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif. hosted a reunion for the former POWs.
The night tried to mirror the original night by offering the same menu and taking place in a replica of the White House’s East Room.
The black-tie affair was a chance for Meyer to see people that he had not seen in years. It was a reunion of men who shared a common experience that few others can understand.
It was nice to get together with them again, he said.
Though the reunion at the Nixon Presidential Library was the first reunion in years, the men have used the Internet to stay in contact with each other. Using a list server especially for Vietnam POWs, Meyers is able to email everybody on the server.
The reunion, which could be the last, was an opportunity to honor men who served their country decades ago.
“(It is) sort of humbling. I don’t know what else to say. Glad to be free,” Meyer said.