MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. --
On Sept. 21, on the first day of Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Week, a man with a beard, a cane, and a flight suit spoke to a crowd of service members in the Lasseter Theatre.
The aging man was once a young captain in the Marine Corps nearly half a century ago when he was shot down in North Vietnam on Oct. 13, 1967, and held as a prisoner of war until March 14, 1973.
“My pilot broke his ankle, and we were in the Demilitarized zone, 450 miles from Hanoi,” said Captain James Warner. “You all know that we do not leave our wounded behind, period.
“So, that night, the first night, I carried him around the DMZ, and every night thereafter as we’re moving north, I would have to carry him two, three, four hours a night,” Warner continued. “That’s life.”
Warner shared his unique experiences as a POW in Vietnam. He recalled names, events and emotions as he picked up his cane, and sat it back down. He spoke about escapes, subtle communication between different prison camps, and attempts to get information back to the United States.
“I knew we would get to write a letter home for Christmas, and the writer had been a cub scout,” said Warner. “I remember in the cub scout manual how it told you to make invisible ink out of starch,”
Their invisible ink was made from mashed rice and water. The location of the camp was written into the letter, having been discovered through the famous nearby landmark Mt. Ba Vi and stars.
The sacrifices Warner and other former prisoners of war have made are respected. Many prisoners of war, however, never got a chance to come back. Some are still missing in action.
A mantra of the Marine Corps is “No Marine left behind.” The Marine Corps strives to uphold this saying by bringing home those we can, and finding the final chapter of those who have passed.