ANDERSONVILLE, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2012)--National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. In honor of that day, the National Park Service, the Friends of Andersonville, and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) are hosting the 2012 National POW/MIA Convocation at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 19 in Jackson Performance Hall.
The public is invited to this free event.
This year’s featured speaker is Bill Arcuri. A graduate of West Point, Arcuri served his first six-month tour to Southeast Asia from May - Oct. 1972 in support of Operation Bullet Shot (LineBacker I) and was assigned with the 64th Bomb Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam. On Dec. 20, 1972, at the beginning of his second tour and while flying his 44th combat mission of LineBacker II, his aircraft was struck by three surface-to-air missiles while bombing the railroad marshalling yards in Yin Vienjust north of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Forced to bailout, he was injured and immediately captured by local civilians. Arcuri was interned in the Hanoi Hilton prison complex for the next 55 days.
Former Vietnam POW Bill Arcuri being interviewed by WALB's Gianna Caserta in Sept. 2011.
As a result of his injuries he was in the first group of returning POW's as part of Operation Home Coming, flown from Hanoi and to Clark AFB on Feb. 12, 1973. Arcuri resigned his commission in the Air Force in July 1976 and began a civilian career. He is now retired and resides in Jupiter, Fla.
The annual Convocation begins four days of area events in recognition of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Rolling Thunder’s annual “The Ride Home” event will bring the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to the GSW campus from Thursday, Sept. 20 through Saturday, Sept. 22. The wall is a three-fifths replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and is nearly 300 feet in length. (A more detailed schedule of events will be posted in the coming weeks)
Rolling Thunder ceremonies to remember military service members still listed as Missing in Action and to honor former POWs will also occur on the campus of GSW. More information on the “The Ride Home” event may be found at http://theridehome.com.
The weekend of National POW/MIA Recognition Day is also a final opportunity for the public to visit the “We Can Forgive But Never Forget” temporary exhibit at the National Prisoner of War Museum. Developed to honor the 70th Anniversary of the fall of the Philippines, this exhibit features photographs, and personal belongings from prisoners held by the Japanese during World War II who fought on Bataan and Corregidor.
Andersonville National Historic Site is located 10 miles south of Oglethorpe and 10 miles northeast of Americus on Georgia Highway 49. The national park features the National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville National Cemetery and the site of the historic Civil War prison, Camp Sumter. Andersonville National Historic Site is the only national park within the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Park grounds are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with the museum opening at 9:00 a.m. Admission is free. For more information on the park, call 229 924-0343, visit on the web at www.nps.gov/ande/, or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
ABOUT GEORGIA SOUTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY: Recognized as one of the best colleges in the South, Georgia Southwestern was founded in 1906 and offers bachelors and masters degrees in arts and sciences, business, education, computing and mathematics and nursing as a unit of the University System of Georgia. GSW is located in Americus, Ga., in Sumter County, the home of former President Jimmy Carter.
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