Twenty United States prisoners of war released by the North Vietnamese arrived at the Travis Air Force Base in California on Wednesday (14 February) from the Clark Air Base in the Philippines.
LV Aircraft arrives
SV & CU People wave flags (2 shots)
MV Guard of Honour walk to aircraft
CU Jeremiah Denton off aircraft and greeted
GV Crowd at airport
GV Former prisoner salutes & greeted by wife & child (4 shots)
MV Soldier with limp greeted by wife (2 shots)
Initials ESP/2324 ESP/2339
original on 1572/73 61ft
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Background: Twenty United States prisoners of war released by the North Vietnamese arrived at the Travis Air Force Base in California on Wednesday (14 February) from the Clark Air Base in the Philippines.
There was no music as the men arrived, but a special guard of honour greeted the ex-prisoners as they walked down a red carpet which stretched to a red-white-and-blue mat bearing the message "Welcome Home".
The first man off the aircraft was Navy Captain Jeremiah Denton, who was also the first man to step down at Clark from Hanoi. He gave a brief speech to the waiting crowd in which he said he had no way of describing what it was like to be home, simply because he had nothing to compare it with.
As the men stepped off the United States Air Force jet, waiting wives rushed up and embraced them. The twenty men all waved at the huge crowd, which burst into applause as each man's name was announced.
Three of the group will stay at Travis, three will go to Military hospitals around San Francisco, three will fly to hospitals near their homes in Southern California, and the rest of the men will fly to Scott Air Base in Arizona where they'll transfer to flights to Military hospitals nearer their home.
SYNOPSIS: A huge crowd was ready at the Travis Air Force Base in California on Wednesday to welcome home the first large contingent of ex-prisoners of war from the Clark Air Base in the Philippines. As the giant United States transport aircraft landed, the crowd gathered around a bandstand draped with bunting. The first two men to arrive back in the United States flew home on Tuesday, but they'd been sent home early because of family crises.
The first man off the jet was Navy Captain Jeremiah Denton. In a short speech at the airport, he told the crowd that during the darker moments in Hanoi, there were occasions when they tried to cheer each other by whistling softly "California, Here I Come."
The twenty men all waved at the crowd and smiled broadly. The crowd applauded as each man's name was announced when he stepped from the aircraft. Then as the men stepped forward, waiting wives rushed up to them and hugged them. There was no music to greet the man...some of whom had been prisoners for nine years. Instead, a Guard of Honour met them as they walked down a red carpet stretched out to a red-white-and-blue mat bearing the message "Welcome Home."
Captain Denton told newsmen at the airport that he spoke on behalf of all the men when he said it was hard to say what it was like to be home. He said it was hard because there was nothing to compare it with. He said the men had ample time in solitude to meditate about families and friends.
At least two more flights were scheduled to arrive in California on Thursday.