March 27, 2023
Annapolis, US 59 F

Stockdale Center Launches POW Remembrance Challenge 

On the 50th anniversary of their repatriation, Feb. 12, the U.S. Naval Academy came alive with an interactive exhibit that engages audiences with the riveting history of the Vietnam prisoner of war (POW) experience, “Returned with Honor,” a remembrance challenge hosted by the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership.

Returned with Honor tells the story of the defiant American Vietnam POWs and their devoted wives and families’ unwavering commitment to country and family. The challenge will allow participants to witness first-hand accounts of American POWs’ courage and ingenuity during the Vietnam War by scanning QR codes at 19 iconic Naval Academy locations. 

“It gives us a chance to give more context about the things the POWs went through,” said Michael Sears, director of Leadership Innovation at the Stockdale Center. “This is a learning experience that is unique to the Naval Academy. Nowhere else could students and civilians alike learn about the leadership challenges these POWs face in such an immersive way, and on the grounds of the institution where many of them spent their formative years.”

The combined scavenger hunt and walking tour of the yard commemorate the service and sacrifice of the 591 American POWs who returned home from North Vietnam as part of Operation Homecoming, which began Feb. 12, 1973.

Fifty years ago, Phase I of Operation Homecoming brought the first group of recovered Vietnam War POWs into Clark Air Base in the Philippines. After stops in Hawaii and California, they finally returned to live their lives as free Americans. The mission ultimately returned 325 Airmen, 138 Sailors, 77 Soldiers, 26 Marines and 25 civilians.

The interactive exhibit is free and open to the public. 

“The big takeaway is, although there is a competitive component to the event, it is meant to be a serious evolution,” said Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Kirsta Wheelock. “It’s an interactive learning experience that will hopefully stick with people longer than watching a documentary. The Forrestal at the beginning of the semester was extremely well received by the Brigade and left many people wanting to know more about the experience of the visiting POWs. This challenge is the perfect opportunity to learn more.”

While midshipmen are challenged to visit the exhibit’s interactive sites around the yard between Feb. 12 at 6 a.m. and Feb. 26 at sunset, the Returned with Honor POW Challenge will remain available for all who visit the Naval Academy indefinitely. 

For more information, visit the Stockdale Center at

Contributed by: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah M. Thielen

Previous Article

5 Crystals to Bring Home in 2023 for Healing and Positive Energy

Next Article

Local Business Spotlight: AACC President Dr. Dawn Lindsay

You might be interested in …