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09-18-02, 09:20 AM #1
Former POW supports war with Iraq
MCLB-ALBANY - A handful of former prisoners of war gathered with their brothers in uniform Friday as the winds of war threaten to sweep up the country once again.
"Be assured we will be calling on a new generation," said retired Lt. Col. Orson Swindle III at the annual POW/MIA breakfast.
Swindle, a Camilla native, was held prisoner in several Southeast Asia camps for six years during the Vietnam War including the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Swindle supports President Bush's War on Terrorism and any efforts to bring Iraq to heel, even if it means young soldiers could be subjected to the horrors of becoming prisoners of war.
"This country is worth sacrifices beyond any sacrifice I've made. It was painful, but it wasn't much," he said. "If I was a few years younger they could suit me up again."
The subject of prisoners of war and those still missing in action has been a topic of conversation lately since the government changed the status of the first American shot down in the Gulf War. Lt. Comdr. Michael Scott Speicher was first listed as killed in action, but recently the government changed his designation to missing in action/captured. The case has helped to focus national attention on the soldiers who are still missing, many from the Vietnam War, Swindle said.
"The Scott Speicher thing does need to be resolved. We need answers," he said. "It is symbolic, if nothing else, of the POWs/MIAs in Vietnam. There are a lot of things we don't know."
Swindle served during the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1989 and is now a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission. He was the guest speaker at the 16th annual POW/MIA recognition breakfast at the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.
Retired Air Force Maj. Charles H. McGhee of Albany was one of a handful of former prisoners of war who attended the breakfast. McGhee was piloting a B-17 in 1944 when he and his crew were shot down over Hungary. For nine months he was a prisoner in the Stalag Luff 3 camp, made famous by the movie "The Great Escape," and the Stalag 7A camp. He was liberated in 1945.
"I have no complaints on treatment, but I wouldn't have wanted to be a prisoner in the Pacific," McGhee said. "The camp was run like a military base, they allowed us to run it."
The POW/MIA breakfast stirs many painful memories, but McGhee's glad they have it. It's important not to forget soldiers' sacrifices in times of war, he said.
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