FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — More than 120 Vietnam War-era prisoners of war are reconnecting with one another at a Dallas-area reunion hosted by developer Ross Perot Jr. and a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
The “Return to Freedom” reunion marks the 45th anniversary of the repatriation of the 662 American POWs held by the North Vietnamese government. NAM-POWs Corp., the nonprofit veterans’ group co-hosting the reunion, said 458 of those POWs are alive today with an average age of 78.
“Our bond is strong. These opportunities to share time together means a lot to all of us,” said retired U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Milligan, NAM-POWs president, in a statement.
That bond is cited by some of the POWs as something that helped keep them alive in captivity.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ken Cordier and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mike McGrath shared a cell in their Hanoi prison for more than five years.
“We just became friends because we could talk the same language and laugh at the same jokes and we had similar interests,” McGrath said.
They said that reconnecting with one another helps their ongoing healing.
“As long as I’m healthy and can travel, I’m going to keep telling my story,” said Cordier.
Orson Swindle is an 81-year-old POW who spent seven years in captivity in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp.
His cell mate was Arizona Senator John McCain.
Swindle and scores of other Vietnam War POWs arrived in buses behind a police motorcade to the Circle T Ranch in Westlake.
The veterans were treated to a special private air show with a B-52 flyover along with fighter jets and other aircraft of the era.
Swindle and other POWs says these reunions are more precious as the veterans get older.
The four-day reunion at The Omni Frisco at The Star hotel continues through Sunday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)