Vietnam POW Spoke For Those Who Can’t

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JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST – Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst hosted the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Remembrance Ceremony on Wednesday in Lakehurst’s historic Hangar 1.

Active-duty and long-retired servicemembers from every branch of service came to pay their respects and honor the memory of our nation’s heroes. Attendees from the Veterans of Foreign Wars association represented every major conflict as far back as the Korean War.


The ceremony began with the posting of the colors by the JB MDL Honor Guard and an invocation by Navy Lt. Commander Kay Reeb. Lee Humiston, a Vietnam War archivist and museum curator, introduced the guest of honor, retired Navy Commander Al Carpenter.

Carpenter is a Vietnam veteran and former “Hanoi Hilton” POW. He expressed how important it is for him to speak on behalf of those who can’t.

“I think it is vital for the citizens of this country to remember our military heritage and those who gave their lives in service of this grand and most noble experiment of democracy,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter was an F-4 Phantom II pilot with the Attack Squadron 72 onboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was leading a flight of three fighters, Nov. 1, 1966, on a missile suppression mission in support of a vital photo reconnaissance flight when his aircraft was hit by anti-air artillery fire. He went into great detail describing the events of his capture and his detainment lasting six years and four months in and around Hanoi.

“I am asked to speak for others like me because I was fortunate enough to survive the ordeal,” said Carpenter. “I do it out of a sense of duty to the Navy and my country.”

He finished his speech by displaying a picture of him shaking the hand of President Richard Nixon after his release March 4, 1973.

Wreaths with the slogan, “You are not forgotten,” were placed near the stage followed by the playing of taps.

Ron Montgomery, Navy Lakehurst Heritage Center Director, presented Carpenter with a model of his F-4 Phantom II which was shot down more than 50 years ago.

Attendees were given time to place a single red rose on the stage in honor of those lost after the benediction and closing remarks.

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