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MILITARY MATTERS: Vietnam Prisoners of War Reunite in SC

Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, Sc. (WTVM) - The last time some of these prisoners of war saw each other was inside an 8x8 prison cell in the Vietnam War, and they got a “welcome home” in a nearby state.

“And there are several guys here who saved my life, and several guys here who claim that I save theirs. That is a bond that you just can’t break,” these veterans said to each other. “You’ll never have closer friends in your life than those you’ve gone through hell with and have come home thank God alive.”

These humble heroes say they were just doing their job - and nearly 100 of them reunited recently in South Carolina.

“There’s only slightly over 400 of us still alive, out of the 660 something that came home,” Vietnam POW Tom McNish said.

These men, held captive inside a prison that became known as the Hanoi hotel, enduring torture and some of the most heinous war crimes.

“You don’t have the fancy airplanes, the superstar uniform, you’re not top gun anymore. Suddenly you go from king of the skies to scum of the earth. Those things that you used to call real, suddenly are not there anymore. So you go back to the baseline of your faith,” Vietnam POW Charlie Plumb said.

Navy Captain and fighter pilot Charlie Plumb spent 2103 days as a prisoner. It was 9 months for Thomas Hamton, and 6 ½ years for McNish.

“It was 2373 days. And every day you’re dreaming of someday I’ll come home. I believed I would come home because I believe my country would never leave me there,” he told us.

Decades later, these POWs reunited in a different kind of hotel: the Westin in downtown Greenville SC for an action packed week.

“There were four other guys that I shared a cell with, and they’re all gonna be here,” Vietnam POW Thomas Hamton said. “So you dream of someday I’m gonna get home, Sunday, and then all of a sudden you step down from that airplane at Clark Air Force Base, and that some day had arrived.”

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