Larry Spencer, POW Veteran

Summer may be gone for a while, but the glorious, crisp mid-autumn weather that we so often experience in Iowa was in full bloom as we met at the Wakonda Club at noon for our weekly meeting.  President Don Flannery welcomed us and called on Rob Hedgepeth for words of inspiration for this day, recognizing our long tradition of emphasizing appreciation for our veterans from over the years as we approach the day that honors them.  Rob shared some excellent insights and commendations, helping us all to be more appreciative of the debt we owe to so many for their service and sacrifice in protecting all Americans in times of both war and peace.  Dave Busiek introduced our guests, with additional attention to all veterans in the audience.  Then John Tone introduced our newest member, Roberta Yoder, highlighted in another item in this report.

Next, David Oman was asked to introduce our speaker for the day, and it’s unlikely that anyone could have better represented the significance of the holiday we will observe on November 11.  Larry Spencer grew up in Earlham, IA, graduating from high school there and later earning a degree in mathematics from Parsons College in 1962.  Enlisting in the Navy the next year, he became a pilot, later becoming one of the early Navy fliers engaged in the Vietnam War.  In February of 1966, his plane was shot down, he was captured and began the first of his 2, 551 days as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, five days short of seven years, suffering extreme mental and physical cruelties while there.  He was later awarded two Silver Star Citations and David chose to read from a part of the first of them.  “Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese…..By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.”  In opening his comments, Larry stated that it is impossible to condense seven years of such an ordeal into twenty-five minutes, and it could be added that it is difficult, at best, to reflect in print the gravity and significance of his presentation, which was truly riveting.  But a few of his many observations included the following.

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