The Blue Wahoos today announced a partnership with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation for the final home baseball game of the season this Sunday, September 17.
Players will wear a POW/MIA commemorative patch on black jerseys to honor the sacrifices and dedication of this country’s prisoners of war and those who were and are still missing in action.
The patch is the same design of a coin and emblem that was designed by the POW/MIAs of the 4th Allied POW wing, which illustrates their togetherness with the phrase “Honor Over All.”
This is part of a larger movement to recognize the POW/MIA story through a new exhibit “Return With Honor: Viêt Nam POW Exhibit” at the Naval Aviation Museum set to open on April 9, 2024. The exhibit will feature AI technology to tell the story of Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr.
Alvarez was the first American aviator taken captive in Vietnam after his aircraft was shot down near Hanoi. He became the second longest-held U.S. prisoner of war (POW) in U.S. history.
Alvarez’s Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was shot down following the Gulf of Tonkin incident on August 5, 1964. He was held in brutal captivity for eight years and seven months at what other POWs called the “Hanoi Hilton,” an infamous North Vietnamese prison camp.
The exhibit will feature the story of Operation Homecoming which orchestrated the return of 591 POWs following the Paris Peace Accords that ended the United States’ involvement with the Vietnam War, fifty years ago this year.
“They’re patriots to the 10th degree,” said Kyle Cozad in reference to the prisoners of war and those missing in action. Cozad is the National Naval Aviation Foundation President & CEO and a retired rear admiral in the United States Navy. He expressed the importance of community partnership and support in telling the story of these heroes. “These guys lived by the pinnacle of patriotism, the pinnacle of devotion. They endured such harsh acts against them, interrogation techniques and methods that nobody could be expected to go through that, but they lived by a code of conduct that allowed them to return with honor. This patch is all about returning with honor.”
Blue Wahoos President Jonathan Griffith and players Josh Zamora, infielder; Shortstop Cobie Fletcher-Vance; and relief pitcher Chandler Jozwiak represented the team at the announcement.
Jozwiak said, “My grandpa was in the army. The biggest thing my grandpa taught me, which I believe he learned in the army, was not to be selfish. That’s what we are representing on Sunday.” He also said those lessons of selflessness are also the reason he believes the Wahoos are having a great season because the teammates are playing for the “guy to the left and the right of us.”
“Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our community. This is another one of those opportunities for us to be able to do that, to give back to our community,” Jonathan Griffith said before expressing that the Wahoos would wear this patch with pride.
Griffith also explained that the POW/MIA commemorative jerseys will be auctioned off during and after the game.
Josh Zemora referenced a quote featured on a POW/MIA exhibit video by CDR Paul Galanti, USN (Ret.), “There is no such thing as a bad day when you have a door knob on the inside of the door,” as a reminder of the blessing of being able to go about his day, presumably playing baseball, as he pleases.
Local POW and guest of honor Ed Hubbard, a retired colonel who spent six years in captivity in Vietnam, will be invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of the game against the Mississippi Braves, which starts at 4:05 p.m.
Following this final series, the Blue Wahoos head into the playoffs next week ready to defend their Southern League title.
For more on the National Naval Aviation Museum, click here.
And for information on getting tickets to the Wahoos series against the Mississippi Braves, which begins today click here.