NAM-POWs, Inc. is a non-profit veteransí organization chartered by the State of Arizona in 1973. NAM-POWs came into existence through a need for the 800 returning Prisoners of War repatriated from the South East Asia conflict to organize in such a way that they could continue to build upon their bonds of friendship and camaraderie developed over years of privation and inhumane treatment experienced while in the prison camps of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.
NAM-POWs are dedicated to the principles of patriotic allegiance to the United States of America, fidelity to its Constitution and laws, the security of civil liberty, and the perpetuation of free institutions. Our objectives are to cherish the memories of the valiant deeds of our members; to promote true fellowship among our members; to advance the best interests of members of the Armed Forces of the United States and to enhance their prestige and understanding by example and personal activity; to stimulate patriotism and national pride in the minds of our youth.
Any person of good moral character who was a POW in South East Asia during the period 1961-1973 is eligible for membership. Our first NAM-POW President was Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient Colonel George "Bud" Day, USAF (Ret). He has been joined by 525 active members which include other distinguished MOH recipients Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN (Ret), Colonel Leo Thorsness, USAF (Ret) and MSGT Jon Cavaiani. Two other POWs, Capt. Lance Sijan, USAF and Col. Donald G. Cook, USMC received the MOH posthumously. Our ranks are replete with honorable men who are continuing to serve their country with the same dedication and fervor as they served with their comrades in the infamous prisons of Hanoi. Men like Navy Rear Admiral and former Senator from Alabama, the Honorable Jeremiah Denton, Senator John McCain from Arizona, Congressman Sam Johnson of Texas, and retired Congressman Douglas "Pete" Peterson of Florida who is the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. Others such as Colonel Ben Purcell, USA (Ret), Col. Larry Chesley, USAF (Ret) and Colonel Leo Thorsness, USAF (Ret) are serving or have served in State Legislatures.
Of the 800 Southeast Asia POWs, 470 were tortured and imprisoned in North Vietnam, some longer than eight years, 262 were in South Vietnam jungle POW camps for as long as nine years, 32 were in Laos, 31 in Cambodia and 5 in China (three of whom were held for over 18 years under sub-human conditions). We are missing the membership of some 235 who separated from the armed services upon their return, blended into the workforce, and have not yet joined our ranks. We are finding them one by one and we welcome them into one of the strongest fraternal organizations that exists in the world today. Today, we are bonded together, not by rank or by service, but by the deep knowledge and faith that we were one unit, one entity that the enemy could not destroy. We held our heads high with pride as we served our nation as Prisoners of War. We accomplished our sworn goal. We Returned With Honor.