During the Vietnam War, there were 725 U.S. Prisoners of War (POWs). Operation Homecoming was a series of diplomatic negotiations that made the return of 591 American prisoners of war held by North Vietnam possible in 1973. The operation was divided into three phases; the first phase required the initial reception of prisoners at three release sites. POWs held by the Viet Cong (VC) were to be flown by helicopter to Saigon, POWs held by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) were released in Hanoi and the three POWs held in China were to be freed in Hong Kong.

The former prisoners were to then be flown to Clark Air Base in the Philippines where they were to be processed at a reception center, debriefed, and receive a physical examination. The final phase was the relocation of the POWs to military hospitals.

The first release occurred on February 12, 1973, 48 years ago today at the time of publication.

One of the prisoners released on this day was LTC (Ret.) Raymond Schrump. Continue reading below to learn about his prison experience.

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