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50th Anniversary Reunion of the Son Tay Raid

Eglin Air Force Base
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

October 14-18, 2020

Forty four years ago, on a cool November night, an armed armada set out to rescue American prisoners of war (POWs) at a virtually unknown place on the outskirts of Son Tay, North Vietnam about 25 miles NW of Hanoi. This joint mission, known as Operation Kingpin, consisted of 56 Special Forces Warriors as well as Aircrews that would fly the force into Son Tay, which included two Combat Talon C130s, five HH-53, one HH-3, and five A1E Skyraiders. Additionally, there were numerous F-105 Wild Weasel and F-4 MIGCap aircrafts and most of two Carrier Battle Group aircrafts in the South China Sea providing an indispensable diversion.

In the early morning of 21 November 1970, the North Vietnamese were treated to an aggressive demonstration of Pres. Richard Nixon’s concern for the welfare of US POWs—the raid on the Son Tay POW camp. Although we rescued no POWs (the enemy had moved them to other facilities), to this day the raid serves as a model of a well-planned and executed joint special operation. Marked by outstanding organization, training, and unity of effort, Operation Kingpin served as an embarrassing wake-up call to the North Vietnamese.

The Son Tay Raid Association will host its 44th anniversary reunion in Kansas City, Kansas. The Raiders and all those who supported the Raid would like to invite family, friends, and fellow Warriors to come and join in the celebration. The three day and three night reunion includes special tours of the USAF Special Operations Squadron, a memorial service for our lost raiders, an informal and formal dinner at the hotel, and plenty of time to enjoy the sights and activities of the Gulf Coast. There are limited rooms available at the hotel, so make your reservations early.

For more information please call our 44th reunion contact Dan Turner, President of STRA, at

Operation White Star (also known as Project White Star) was the code name for a United States military advisory mission to Laos during the first years of the Second Indochina War, which would eventually become known in the United States as the Vietnam War. The purpose was to train the Royal Laotian Army as well as indigenous Hmong, and Yao tribesmen to fight the Pathet Lao communist insurgency. This was later extended to include combat against the North Vietnamese Army, which was increasingly using Laos as a staging, transit and resupply area for its operations in South Vietnam.

White Star began in 1959 as "Operation Hotfoot" with the deployment of 107 United States Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) of the 77th Special Forces Group —later named the 7th SFG in May 1960—under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons. Because Laos was ostensibly a neutral party to the conflict between the United States and North Vietnam, the soldiers did not wear United States Army uniforms.

In 1961, however, the United States lent full and open support to the Vientiane government and the program was renamed "Operation White Star" with U.S. soldiers openly wearing their uniforms. Operation White Star formally ended in July 1962 when Laotian neutrality was officially established. Counterinsurgency efforts were then managed covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency.

23rd Annual Florida All Airborne Days

October 20th 2010 throught October 24th 2010 at the Ramada Gateway Hotel, Kissimee

View Picture (2010)

Those who have served and those currently serving the uniformed services of the United States are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and internment Before we begin our activities this evening, we will pause to recognize our POW’s and MIA’s. We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table. It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POW’s and MIA’s. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay our humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence. This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

The single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood they many have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.

The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

The glass is inverted - they cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty - they are not here.

The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

Let us pray to the supreme commander that all of our comrades will soon be back within our ranks.

Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May god forever watch over them and protect them and their families.

POW/MIA Table Set for One

As you entered the dining area this evening, you may have noticed a small table in the place of honor near our head table. It is set for one. The military caste is filled with symbolism. This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that the members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly called, POW/MIA. We call them brothers. They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them because of their incarceration. This table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors. Remember!

The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. Remember!

The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who kept the faith awaiting their return. Remember!

The red ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. Remember!

A slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate. Remember!

There is salt upon the bread plate symbolic of families’ tears as they wait. Remember!

The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us this night. Remember!

The chair, the chair is empty, they are not here. Remember!

The History of The Vietnam War POW/MIA Flag

In 1971, Mrs.Mary Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida TIMES-UNION, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice-President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People's Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all UN member nations. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he, along with Annin's advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.

The flag is black, bearing in the center, in black and white, the emblem of the League. The emblem is a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man, watch tower with a guard holding a rifle, and a strand of barbed wire; above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA framing a white 5-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.

Concerned groups and individuals have altered the original POW/MIA Flag many times; the colors have been switched from black with white - to red, white and blue, -to white with black; the POW/MIA has at times been revised to MIA/POW. Such changes, however, are insignificant. The importance lies in the continued visibility of the symbol, a constant reminder of the plight of America's POW/MIA'S.

On March 9,1989, a POW/MIA Flag, which flew over the White House on the 1988 National POW/MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th session of Congress. The leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony in a demonstration of bipartisan congressional support. This POW/MIA Flag, the only flag displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda, stands as a powerful symbol of our national commitment to our POW/MIAs until the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing in Southeast Asia has been achieved.

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