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      Former Prisoner of War speaks in Richland

      The Richland Memorial Day Service was held at 2 p.m. on Monday at the Richland City Park.

      â??Please give a big Richland welcome to Col. Harold Johnson,â?? said Byron F. Kimble.

      Born in Ottumwa, Harold E. Johnson was wounded and captured by the North Vietnamese while flying his F-105 on his 93rd mission over Vietnam and was held as a Prisoner of War until his release on March 4, 1973.

      â??My wife didn't know I was alive and it wasn't until after three years I'd been there that she was watching TV one evening. And in the overview they said they were going to some films recently released. As they panned through the group of prisoners, I was in the center of the stage in the picture and that was the first time it was confirmed that I was alive. So for six years I had a Vietnamese name and I was missing in action for three years,â?? said Col. Johnson.

      Col. Johnson was the keynote speaker at the Richland Memorial Day Service and left everyone with this message:

      â??It was these fallen heroes, not the reporter, who gave us freedom of the press. It was these fallen heroes, not the campus organizers, who gave us freedom to demonstrate. It was these fallen heroes who saluted the flag who served beneath the flag and whose coffin was dropped by the flag to preserve the system that allows the protestors to burn the flag. God bless them all,â?? said Col. Johnson.

      The American Legion Post #504 presented the colors and was the firing squad at the service.