"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28
After heart breaking delays, finally on Monday, March 5, 1973,we were told to fall in line and march where we were supposed to be released. A Vietcong called each of our name through a speaker so all the spectators, US military personnel and photographers could hear. We were met by Henry Byroade, the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. He escorted Art and I from the release point in Hanoi to Clark Air Force Base.
Art and I stood in line while waiting for our names to be called.
Freedom is now a reality. We can hardly contain our excitement and joy. After the plane doors closed, emotions ran wild as we all screamed and yelled . Everybody walked around, lit up cigars or cigarettes, and the Air Force medical personnel gave us hugs. We felt like birds finally set free .free to fly . What a wonderful feeling! I closed my eyes to take in the euphoria that has suddenly become overwhelming yet so exhilarating. . It felt like I was drifting in a dream . No, this isnt a dream! It's hard to believe I'm free . After 1,859 days in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, I'm FREE AT LAST!
Great anxiety was felt by all. There was complete silence as everyone was escorted to their seat... until the doors closed and the plane took off. Then everybody yelled and clapped their hands. Freedom!
You always take freedom for granted. You never appreciate it until it is taken away from you........Pop
On the evening of January 29, 1973, I was in our dime store inventorying shelves and preparing a list of items that needed replenishing. Suddenly my daughter, Chari, who happened to be watching the news on tv came to the store screaming. "Papa is alive and he is going to be released according to the news broadcast." It took me a few minutes to take in the news and realized she was not joking. I jumped with joy and we started screaming. I left the store like a mad woman and went to the house hoping to catch the news recap. Soon, the report mentioned the names of the Prisoners of War that included 2 Filipinos, Candido Badua and Arturo Balagot. When I heard my husband's name, I knew that my prayers had been answered. The long agony of not knowing his whereabouts was finally over. I praised the Lord for the strength and courage He gave me to face the trials and challenges throughout the long wait. He gave me the hope that I needed all through those years. Never did I lose faith in Him and tonight my prayers were answered.
Friends and relatives began calling. Neighbors came to express their joy. I was too excited and overwhelmed with the great news. As happiness and exhilaration prevailed among family and friends that gathered in the house, I could not help but wonder. I feared for his mental state, for his health, his physical condition. I agonized over these fears but once again I had to have faith in the Lord that all is well.
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