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Stacey N. Binning

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National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
April 9, 2007

Today is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, as ordered by President Bush.

So, in honor of this day, I present to you photos and stories of two ex-POWs: Booker T. Johnson, ex-POW of the Korean War and Robbie Risner, ex-POW of the Vietnam War.

 I first met Booker T. Johnson on Memorial Day 2001. It was my first Memorial Day here in Texarkana, and my first service to attend. He came up to me, shook my hand, smiled, and thanked me for attending. I did not know until I arrived at the next service (I had attended the second of three services held on Memorial day), that Booker T. was an ex-POW of the Korean War. Given the fact that I became involved with veterans because of being first involved in the POW/MIA issue, this was exciting.

I only ever saw Booker T. at Memorial Day services and again following the Veterans Day parade, when he would come to McDonald's to receive his free meal. (The owner of the local McDonald's gives free meals to veterans every year following the Veterans Day parade and the veteran groups help man the sign-in tables).

Sadly, Booker T. was called Home late last year. He was a good Christian man who endured more than three years as a prisoner of war in Korea, and I am truly blessed to have known him.

Robbie Risner was one of the longest held POWs in the Vietnam War. He was shot down on 16 September 1965, and released on 12 February 1973. Risner also served in World War II and Korea, having flown over 100 missions in Korea. I had the honor of meeting Brig. Gen. Risner in Branson in June 2005, when I volunteered at Operation Homecoming USA, a national Welcome Home event for Vietnam Veterans. Risner was the guest speaker for the Friday morning opening services, and managed not to cry while speaking. Following his talk, many of us got the chance to meet and talk with him. I told him Thank You! and mentioned my website dedicated to POWs/MIAs and also to those like him, returned POWs. We did not talk long, but by the time we finished, we were both crying.

You really do need to read his bio, especially the last parts, when it talks about the Air Force Academy dedication of a nine-foot tall statue, which was commissioned by Ross Perot (whom I also got to meet in Branson; he was responsible for putting the homecoming together). It was a great honor to meet this true American hero.

James Robinson "Robbie" Risner
James Robinson "Robbie" Risner

Stacey N. Binning
Copyright 2007

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