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Three’s in: Keesler honors Vietnam Veterans

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, participates in a cake cutting ceremony during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which also included a commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, participates in a cake cutting ceremony during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which also included a commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Gregory Hall, Keesler Base Exchange general manager, presents a lapel pin to Roger Anderson, U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which also included a cake cutting ceremony, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Gregory Hall, Keesler Base Exchange general manager, presents a lapel pin to Roger Anderson, U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which also included a cake cutting ceremony, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, delivers remarks during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The  Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, delivers remarks during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, speaks to Vietnam veterans during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, speaks to Vietnam veterans during the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Roger Anderson, U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, attends the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Roger Anderson, U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, attends the 50th Anniversary Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day at The Exchange March 29, 2018, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The event, which included a cake cutting ceremony and commemorative lapel pin presentation, was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The Defense Commissary Agency, Army and Air Force Exchange Service and 81st Training Wing leadership celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial Pinning Day today at The Exchange on Keesler Air Force Base.

The event was held to honor Vietnam veterans for their service and pay tribute to their contributions while on active duty between the years of Nov. 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975.

Keesler Air Force Base played a vital part in bringing military members home from Vietnam by hosting 12 Air Force returning prisoners of war during Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973. The first group of returnees arrived on Feb. 15. Amongst the returnees was Col. John P. Flynn, senior officer of all POWs interned in North Vietnam.

These Airmen received medical treatment, intelligence debriefings and were able to spend the weekends with their family members by using the Red Cross Lounge in the U.S. Air Force Medical Center, now known as Keesler Medical Center, and other facilities on base.    

Approximately 80 percent of the U.S. military POWs who survived the war went on to continue their military careers with most of the 500 returning Airmen retraining or resuming their careers in aviation.

Ex-POW Airmen adopted the motto of “Three’s in” after their return to duty. This motto signified an aircraft, number three in a four-ship group, rejoining a missing man formation. The motto paid tribute to their return home and back into active duty.