AII POW-MIA White
WHITE HOUSE RELEASE 19
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 29, 1995
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT UNVEILING OF POW-MIA STAMP
9:15 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Secretary Brown, for your
remarks and for your service. Postmaster General Runyon, Senator
Simpson, Congressman Bishop, Secretary and Mrs. West, General
and Mrs. Shalikashvili; to the distinguished service chiefs who
are here, members of the Armed Forces, and especially to our
veterans on this Memorial Day: We are proud to have you all here
at the White House, and honored to have the opportunity to
unveil this stamp, which honors the extraordinary sacrifice of
American prisoners of war and the memory of all those who never
came home. It will help to ensure that all these Americans who
gave so much to our freedom are never forgotten.
We are especially fortunate to have a number of former prisoners
of war joining us here today. They represent a half- century of
commitment to the principles that our nation has stood for
throughout the world. They embody a level of devotion and
service almost unimaginable. And I am proud to recognize several
of them who are here today.
Lt. Colonel Charles Prigmore was a young bombardier during World
War II. On his 14th mission over Germany, his plane was shot
down, and he spent a year as a POW. Today he is the national
commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War.
Colonel Prigmore, would you be recognized, please? (Applause.)
Infantryman Bill Rolen fought at Anzio Beach and helped to
liberate Rome. During the invasion of Southern France he was
captured and forced to spend the rest of the war in a slave
labor camp. Mr. Rolen, welcome. (Applause.) Thank you.
When the Philippines were attacked in 1941, Ruby Bradley had
already been an Army nurse for seven years. She was captured
just days after Christmas, and her internment lasted until 1945.
Ms. Bradley. (Applause.) Thank you.
Robert Fletcher was serving in Korea in 1950 when he was
captured. He spent nearly three years as a prisoner of the North
Korean and Chinese forces before he finally could return home.
Mr. Fletcher. (Applause.) Thank you.
Captain Isaac Camacho, a Green Beret, was captured outside
Saigon when his camp was overrun in 1963. He endured the jungle
prisons of the Viet Cong for nearly two years and was one of the
very few to escape and to survive. It is especially appropriate
to have him here today because he is still a servant of our
country; he is the U.S. Postal Service station master in El
Captain Camacho. (Applause.) Thank you, sir.
And finally, Lt. Colonel Rhonda Cornum is a flight surgeon who
served in Operation Desert Storm. On a rescue mission in Iraq
her helicopter was shot down. She was badly injured, with broken
arms and a gunshot wound, captured by Iraqi forces and held
until the end of the fighting.
Colonel Cornum. (Applause.) Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, these and the others who have suffered
similar fates are American heroes, among the finest and bravest
individuals our nation has ever produced. They had to bear
hardships, but never faltered. They inspire us still, and will
for generations to come. I am pleased now that millions of
Americans will be reminded every day of the extraordinary
service they rendered, and all others like them rendered, by
this new stamp.
On this Memorial Day, as every year, we also remember those who
answered the call, but never came home. Their loss is the
greatest cost our nation has paid for freedom. We can only
imagine the pain their families have experienced, the grief that
comes with uncertainty, the grief that comes with being denied a
proper and clear grave. We know very well our obligation to them
and their families to leave no stone unturned as we try to
account for their fate, and if possible, bring them home.
We have worked hard and made good progress. We have put the
issue of MIA cases ahead of all others in our dealings with
Vietnam. And today I am proud to say that we are receiving more
cooperation from Hanoi than ever before.
A presidential delegation, headed by the Veterans Department
Deputy Secretary, Hershel Gober, has just returned from Vietnam
and Laos, and we believe that cooperation with both these
nations will continue. Our joint investigations are moving
forward, and the Vietnamese are turning over essential
documents. More than 200 sets of remains have been returned
since I became President. Of the nearly 200 so-called
"discrepancy cases", we have confirmed the fate of all but 55.
And we will not stop until we have taken every possible step for
every MIA and every MIA family. (Applause.)
I want to say a special word of appreciation to all those who
have participated in this remarkable effort. There is nothing
like it in all the history of warfare. Never has so much been
done to get this kind of accounting. I thank the families
involved, the veterans groups involved, those who have served in
the active duty military as a part of this, and others who have
played critical roles.
I also thank the Americans who have worked to help the
Vietnamese to identify their MIAs as well. That, too, is an
astonishing development in the history of warfare. And the
American people are indebted to all of you who have played a
role in this remarkable endeavor.
Thanks to our new relationship with Russia, we're also making
progress on the MIA cases from World War II, the Korean War,
Vietnam and a number of Cold War incidents. The U.S.-Russia
Joint Commission on POW-MIAs has gained access to thousands of
pages of once-classified documents, conducted hundreds of
interviews in Russia and in the other New Independent States,
received important information about the fate of American
Those missing from the war in Korea, along with the MIAs from
all our nation's conflicts, will not be forgotten in the heart
of America. Our work will go forward until we have done all
there is to do. We owe it to them, to their families, and to our
country to work on this until the job is done.
And we must remain true to our entire commitment to stand by all
those who stood watch for freedom. Whether it is protecting
benefits that veterans have earned, or improving health care, or
breaking the cycle of despair for homeless veterans, or
confronting the legacy of Agent Orange, or getting the bottom of
Gulf War-related illnesses, we must uphold our solemn obligation
to our veterans -- not for a few months or for a few years, but
for the entire lifetime of this nation. (Applause.)
And we owe it to the legacy of our veterans to protect the
national security in the future. We are working hard to end the
legacy of the Cold War. The United States and Russia are
destroying nuclear arsenals. And I am proud that for the first
time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there are no nuclear
weapons pointed at the children of the United States of America.
I am proud that the United States and Russia joined together to
secure the indefinite extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty,
so that more and more nations will be making and keeping a
promise not to develop nuclear weapons.
But we know that we have challenges from other weapons as well
-- from biological and chemical weapons. We must work to contain
them. And we know that we have the challenge not only of nations
that still seek to do us and other freedom-loving peoples harm,
but also, from terrorists around the world and here at home who
would threaten our security and our way of life.
We must stand up to all these security threats as a way of
honoring those who have sacrificed and served our country. They
brought us to this point, and we owe it to them to give our
children the opportunities we have all enjoyed.
So, on this Memorial Day, I say to all of you, we honor the
sacrifices of those who never came home, the sacrifices of those
who were imprisoned but came home, the sacrifices of all who
gave and all who serve. God bless you all, and God bless
And now, for the proper unveiling of this much-deserved stamp,
let me introduce our very fine Postmaster General, Mr. Marvin
Runyon, and thank him again for the outstanding job he has done.