Northern Vietnam, June 1967 - As the F4 Phantom pilot struggled to save the plane, he could hear his backseat navigator repeating the words “We’re not going to make it.... not going to make it.” Moments later, the world’s greatest fighter pilot surrendered to the failing aircraft and gave the command to eject... the date was June 14, 1967.
Before the two US Air Force Pilots parachutes fully deployed, the F4 Phantom slammed into the ground. USAF Lieutenants Ed Mechenbier and Kevin McManis had missed certain death by less then two seconds.
Unfortunately, for the two this wasn’t a training mission. As they descended their chutes nylon fabric was torn by small arms fire from below... they had a welcoming committee forming up directly below them.
After nearly six years of confinement, torture and near death experiences the fighter pilots along with nearly 600 other prisoners of war came home. Their fight in Vietnam was over.
Fast forward to Monday, January 27, 2014. Edward Mechenbier, the longest serving armed forces member from the group of Vietnam P.O.W.‘s was fully engaged in sharing his life story. From the number of steps it took to empty his ‘honey bucket’ each day to the approximate number of individual rice kernels in an average daily meal. Listening intently were America’s future U.S. Army leaders.
The purpose of the engagement - to share the experience, put a face on resiliency and provide hope and connectedness between the hardships of past conflicts and the promise of obstacles which will face our future leaders.
Once again, American300 Tours was at work providing face to face exchanges between real life resiliency subject matter experts and service members.
For Major General Edward Mechenbier and Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours, it was another opportunity to share, to connect. Something that American300 Tours does on a monthly basis every month of the year at bases all over the world.
|Major Davis with Robi Powers and|
MajGen Mechenbier - USMA
“Resiliency in the military is complex, to increase (it) we need to do everything we can. One very basic thing we can do is show our service members that there is hope... light at the end of life’s difficult tunnels,” says Powers adding, “ you don’t get more light at the end of the tunnel then hearing General Mechenbier’s life story and meeting the man up close.”
General Mechenbier is one of many resiliency mentors that American300 has reached out to and asked to share their stories. Together the Veteran’s travel the world to bases on resiliency tours under the themed name “Service with Honor”.
Special thanks to United States Military Academy Superintendent Lieutenant General Robert Caslen and his entire staff and cadet corps for the amazing visit to West Point.
Serve with Honor!
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American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, their Families and the Areas in which they live and Operate in around the world. No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied - American300.org.