The Alcatraz 11 and National POW/MIA Day

Friday, Sept. 19, is National POW/MIA Day. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Bob Shumaker, a retired Navy rear Admiral who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for nearly eight years. When he left, his son was a newborn. He would become part of the Alcatraz 11–a group of POW dissidents confined to solitary for more than two years. I also spoke with all-around amazing person Louise Mulligan, a housewife-turned-activist, who broke government policy to speak out in order to bring her husband, and many other men, to the forefront of American concern and finally, home. Alvin Townley, author of Defiant, a book about the Alcatraz 11, shared the wider history and context of this movement.

One of the 11 men would go on to receive the Medal of Honor. One would serve as a senator, another a congressman. One never made it back to the States.

Read the story here.

I had to cut an original draft of nearly 4,000 words–all quotes, not just my own babbling–to the 1,600 presented. If you want to know more, do some Googling, look at newspaper archives and check out Townley’s book.