This collection features display boards tracing the history of war in Southeast Asia, framed photographs of the POWs during and after captivity, and memorabilia of the POW experience itself.
It includes two cases containing photographs of USAF Academy graduates taken from their class yearbooks and matched with later photographs, most taken after repatriation.
It also includes a large case of material that shows two sides of the home front battle: the antiwar movement and support for POWs and MIAs.
Interspersed through the display are several manikins. The manikins are clothed in U.S. uniforms worn before capture and prison garb brought out of Vietnam by returning POWs.
Last, it includes a set of 12 framed boards containing memorial bracelets from the 1960s and early 1970s that were worn by many Americans supporting the POW-MIA cause.
The display begins with a large reproduction of a solitary POW seated on a wooden slab. This reproduction is taken from a photograph of part of an exhibit that stood in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol from 1970 through 1971, the purpose of which was to call attention to the plight of the POWs and MIAs.
The POW figure is a wax carving, depicting the condition of POWs in North Vietnam during the dark years before 1971. Many of the returning POWs have attested to its realism, including several returnees, each of whom suggested that the wax figure was actually himself.
The plight of POWs in South Vietnam was also depicted in the U.S. Capitol exhibit. A photograph of a bamboo cage represented the conditions for Viet Cong, Pathet Lao, and Khmer Rouge prisoners. A copy of this photograph is located in the Panels section of HONOR BOUND display.
From the November 2001 Newsletter:
The Friends are very proud of the collection of the Southeast Asia Prisoner of War experience. This collection, which The Friends have been influential in assembling for the Academy Library, is composed of both documents and artifacts.
The documents include not only papers, but also photographs and film which came largely from the files of the historical office of the Secretary of Defense. The artifact portion of the collection has come largely from the generous donation of Mr. Lee Humiston who assembled the POW uniforms and other related material over many years to create a lasting historical record of the sacrifice and heroism of the American prisoners of war.
This fine collection is now the largest and most definitive collection of its kind in the United States. By 2003, the 30th anniversary of “Operation Homecoming,” this collection will be enriched by additional material from the Department of Defense and by creating CDs and interactive DVDs that will make available substantial portions of the documentary materials and artifacts for use on personal computers. A substantial portion of the collection is now on display on the main floor of the Academy Library.
From the April 2002 Newsletter:
As noted in the last Newsletter, The Friends sponsored an extensive exhibit of the documents, photographs, and artifacts that depicted the American prisoner of war experience in Southeast Asia. The exhibit, which was on display from September through November in the Academy Library, was developed from a collection of artifacts donated to the Academy by Mr. Lee Humiston, and the Southeast Asia Prisoner of War Archive that was obtained for the Academy Library by The Friends from the Office of Secretary of Defense. The archive was gathered in support of the publication of the award-winning book, Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961-1973 [by Stuart I. Rochester and Frederick Kiley]. The collection is the largest and most definitive of its kind in the United States.
On 16 November, the exhibit was moved from the Academy Library and placed on display in Arnold Hall in conjunction with a ceremony for the unveiling of a statue honoring Brig. General Robinson Risner, USAF (Ret). General Risner was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. As a senior ranking officer in the “Hanoi Hilton,” General Risner became an inspiration to all for his leadership and dedication to his country. Over 100 former prisoners of war who had served in North Vietnam attended the ceremony. Mr. H. Ross Perot and General Risner reviewed the exhibit and each was presented with a copy of The Genesis of Flight by the Secretary of the Friends, Brig. General Philip Caine.