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    Robert E. Mitchell Center Remembers the Past to Prepare for Future



    Courtesy Story

    Navy Medicine Operational Training Center

    NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. (March 3, 2022) – The Robert E. Mitchell Center for POW Studies (REMC) is unique in its mission of providing follow-up evaluations to repatriated prisoners of war (RPOWs) from Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, to study the mental and physical effects of captivity and to address the findings' applicability to current and future military operations.

    Historically, Americans held prisoner of war (POW) by Asian captors have fared poorly, both during and following captivity. During World War II, 38 percent of 33,000 Americans held by Imperial Japan died during captivity. Only one-percent of those held by the Axis Powers in Europe died. During the Korean Conflict, 38 percent of 7,000 American captives died.

    The stress of the POW experience includes disease, physical abuse, malnutrition, and psychological torment. The effects do not necessarily end with repatriation. Several cross-sectional studies demonstrated excess morbidity and mortality have persisted, in those repatriated POWs from the Asian theater of operations, for approximately 20-25 years.

    Given that the average duration of the Vietnam-era POW was considerably longer than that of prior Asian theater conflicts and it is known that torture was used, it is not surprising that U.S. authorities expected the worst in preparing for the repatriation of American POWs from Vietnam in 1973.

    This preparation was the impetus for the Department of Defense (DoD) to mandate all the services to conduct a five-year (longitudinal) study at the Center for POW Studies (CPWS) at Point Loma, Calif. When the mandate ended, the U.S. Army and Air Force stopped their annual evaluations, but the Navy did not. 

    Not only did Navy Capt. Robert Mitchell, who was responsible for the Navy part of the mandate, continue the Navy evaluations, he also created a U.S. Navy comparison group to make all analysis a lot more meaningful.  In the mid 90’s, probably influenced by Operation Desert Storm POWs, Congress and DoD created and established REMC, whereby all RPOWs from the Vietnam-era to present-day are now included in the studies.
    The rich history of REMC will recognize a milestone that began with Operation Homecoming on Feb. 12, 1973, and ran through April 4th, 1973. This time marks the return of 591 POWs from North Vietnam. Currently, there are still 213 members that receive annual physicals from the REMC to monitor their health and mental wellness.

    Hence, the REMC history is intrinsically integral to Operation Homecoming. To remember this historic event’s anniversary, the center will host an event on April 8, 2022, to recognize the 49th anniversary of Operation Homecoming’s completion.

    The purpose is to celebrate each former POW’s repatriation, and recognize how each one proudly served a grateful nation. REMC is proud to have kept their faith in these heroes for 49 years of unbroken dedication and loyal service.

    To honor them, Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute will host an Operation Homecoming remembrance event in their auditorium Apr. 8, 2022, at 9 a.m. There will be Vietnam-era repatriated POWs who will recount their experiences before, during, and after Operation Homecoming.



    Date Taken: 03.01.2022
    Date Posted: 03.04.2022 11:05
    Story ID: 415759
    Location: PENSACOLA, FL, US 

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