Vietnam P.O.W. Spends Week with Alaskan Lifesavers

Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, AK -   Lieutenant Ed Mechenbier had done everything he could to save his aircraft and the lives in it, but on the third “we’re not going to make it...”  call from his backseat weapons officer, he made the decision to eject.

There was no need to say it twice.

Less then two seconds after his parachute deployed, the fighter pilot watched as his F4 Phantom slammed into North Vietnam. 

American300 guests and Ketchikan Coast Guardsmen are reunited for the third time in less then a year as the American300 Tours: ‘Service with Honor - Never Quit Series’ places now retired United States Air Force Major General Edward Mechenbier with the lifesavers here. 

“There is very little you can say to a young Coastie, who has been waiting three plus years to get a school house slot for a rating... that they’re really going to listen to,” says former Army Sergeant Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit American300, adding, “ but put a guy who went through six years of hell as a prisoner of war, who then came home to eventually become a two star General with them and suddenly young Service Members are getting a world class encounter that mirrors their leaderships preachings on perseverance.” 

Making the visit to this small fishing village for the third time in less then a year is purely by design. The nonprofit believes in growth through a strategic nurturing approach.  “ Not everyone is going to relate to every guest mentor we introduce to a unit,” says retired Army wounded warrior Major Jessie Stewart, who sits on the non-profit's board of directors, adding,  “When I came back from my last deployment I didn’t want to be around folks who couldn’t relate, who hadn’t been there, I can relate completely to how our programming is received by Service Members... I was one of them once, I met Robi and American300 the first time in the middle east and the effect was overwhelmingly positive.

Focused on sharing amazing resiliency stories time and time again with the hopes that eventually every service member meets someone who ‘registers’ and can be 'related to' is one of the primary missions of American300 Tours.  The other is to give Service Members an opportunity to spend quality time with the various guest mentors.  “We work with leadership that allow us to embed our guests, slow things down and develop lasting impressions with their warriors,” says Powers.  

American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit which enlists the assistance of resiliency experts to help today’s military members be the best that they can be in service, relationships and friendships.  To date the nonprofit has visited over 400 bases worldwide in support of a comprehensive approach by the Department of Defense to offer up unique ways of approaching service life.  Previous visits to Ketchikan have featured world champion athletes and the first amputee to summit Mount Everest. 

For more on American300 visit: 

For more on the United States Coast Guard visit: 

American300 Tours are volunteer based.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - Public Affairs. 

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