Operation Homecoming, Feb 12, 1973, Clark Air Base, Philippines

I was stationed at Clark AB Philippines, February 12, 1973. This day will remain with me thanks to film and today’s technology, namely, Facebook/ Facebook has become an avenue to share experiences through the camaraderie of having been stationed at the same military site. These ‘friends’ were either at the same base before, during, or afterwards.

I recently responded to a post by someone who posted the date the POWs returned to Clark AB as Operation Homecoming. It was their first stop to a quality hospital where physicals could be administered and they could begin to acclimate to their new freedom. Flags were flying, posters were held up and thumbs up were given from the crowd to the POWs as their buses left for the hospital.

I posted one of my favorite photos - a former POW hanging out of the bus window wanting to touch the hand of people in the crowd.

Over 250 people responded to the photographs posted on Facebook. There were folks who were elementary students, in the crowd, taken out of school to greet them. There were teachers, military police, flight line personnel who were staged near the engine of the plane on the tarmac after it had idled to a stop. Elementary kids recalled the POWs speaking to their class. Many recalled the POW bracelet they wore until the fate of their ‘friend’ was known.

Each of us have our own experience. It is hard to imagine 48 years have passed. If we’ve acknowledged events of 50 years in the pas - landing on the moon, freedom marches, speeches, let’s not forget the Operation Homecoming, the Military Airlift Command C-117’s and Aero Medical Unit C-9’s that brought our heroes home.

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