The Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation exists to:
Provide financial support for the POWs to gather for their Freedom Reunion
Share their journey and life lessons with students, entrepreneurs, business and community leaders
Most of the American POWs captured in South Vietnam, North Vietnam and Laos were held in Hanoi in a French-built prison called Hoa Lo. The American captives humorously called their dark and dangerous cells the "Hanoi Hilton." Six smaller prisons within 100 miles of the city held most of the Army and Marine Corps POWs captured in South Vietnam. There were over 20 escape attempts, but no POW ever successfully escaped from Hanoi. Most of the POWs shot down and captured in North Vietnam (468) were aircrew personnel of the U.S. Air Force (319), Navy (140), and Marine Corps (9). In total, 662 POWs survived the Vietnam Conflict. Only 408 of those 662 are alive today.
The bond they share is unbreakable. Their collective experiences include some of the most heinous war crimes and torturous treatments as prisoners held captive in the Hanoi Hilton. They endured and survived.
In 1973, upon their return, the POWs formed their own 501c (19) Veterans organization to formalize their fraternal organization, NAM-POWS, Inc. Annually, a core group of these warriors come together to reconnect and renew their bonds of friendship. Recently, in June 2021, they held their 48th Freedom Reunion in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was during this recent Freedom Reunion that they graciously accepted the invitation to hold their 49th Freedom Reunion in the great city of Greenville, South Carolina.
It is the desire of the Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation to provide these returned heroes with a memorable experience to be held in Greenville in June 2022. The POWs will have an opportunity to reconnect as they renew old friendships in our beautiful city of Greenville. South Carolina is proud to show our love and appreciation for their sacrifices as we show them the best of our great State.
Lt. Paul Lopez holding his daughter Brenda Stewart (founder of the Vietnam POW Foundation) with his son and neighbor's child in El Paso, Texas (1965).
Military life is a family business.
Brenda Stewart, founder and chair of the Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation knows this firsthand. She grew up “an Army brat,” born in Karachi, Pakistan and moving more than ten times before graduating from high school. Her father spent 22 years in the Army and retired in 1979 as a Major. Major Lopez instilled in her a love of country and a commitment to support those in service of others.
“My father served in Vietnam and thankfully, he came home to his family at the end of the assignment,” said Stewart. “He knew others who did not come home and still others who experienced the horror of long-term captivity as a prisoner of war.”
Stewart established the Vietnam POW Foundation in March 2020 with a goal of bringing the NAMPOW group (surviving POWs) to Greenville, SC for one of their freedom reunions.
In June 2021 the NAMPOW board and its members voted to accept the invitation. Their 49th Annual Freedom Reunion will be held in Greenville, South Carolina, June 1-5, 2022.
The Vietnam POW Reunion Foundation is now actively working to raise funds to support the most memorable reunion possible. There are many opportunities to volunteer or sponsor the event. Join us and be a part of something very special.
God Bless America and our men and women in service!