Hanoi releases 108 American POWs (Hubert Walker)

A gaunt but cheerful 108 American prisoners of war regained their freedom today, with the senior ranking prisoner in North Vietnam declaring the U.S. POWs “performed magnificently … they were first class soldiers.”

“I would like to say I’ve been in better places but I have never been with better people,” Air Force Col. John P. Flynn, 50, the senior ranking man held in the North, said as he stepped off his freedom flight.

“Our men performed magnificently. They were first class soldiers. They were first class citizens.”

The 108 were flown from Hanoi to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in three planeloads. If processing at Clark goes as smoothly as it has in the past, the first of the men should be back in the United States by the weekend.

The release leaves 147 known U.S. POWs still in Indochina, including 10 in Laos. Another 32 are to be released by the Viet Cong Friday and the rest are all supposed to be freed by March 28 according to the Vietnam cease-fire.

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