Vietnam War Commemoration Commission

Week of February 12

On February 12, 1973, a group of American prisoners of war (POWs) lifted off from Hà Nội's Gia Lâm Airport, in North Vietnam, aboard a U.S. Air Force C-141 Starlifter. These men were the first POWs to be released by North Vietnam and other Communist governments as part of Operation HOMECOMING.

The United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973. Article 8 of the accords required the repatriation of POWs by all belligerents within 60 days. Between February 12 and March 29, a total of 591 Americans, including 566 military and 25 civilian personnel, were released by their captors and boarded aircraft to begin their journeys home. Nine foreign nationals were also released.

The former POWs, some of whom had been imprisoned for over eight years, flew first to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. There they received medical attention and debriefings before finally returning to the United States to be reunited with their loved ones.

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