YORBA LINDA (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of Vietnam-era POWs gathered Friday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Orange County to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a special homecoming celebration at the White House.

The decorated veterans, many of them former pilots, wore the same uniforms they wore the evening of May 24, 1973.

Described as a magical night with President Nixon and his wife, the unforgettable night on the South Lawn of the White House had marked the return of more than 600 war heroes.

“My parents really wanted to make it as special as possible for these brave people who had gone through so much and yet, had always loved their country,” Tricia Nixon-Cox, President Nixon’s daughter, told CBS2’s Suraya Fadel.

Nixon-Cox, the eldest Nixon daughter, recalled the evening as if it were yesterday. She said she’d never forget the heroes and their wives; their mothers and families, and their new freedom.

“Just a time of a great hope for them and thanksgiving for the whole nation I think,” she said.

Others who were there, like Henry Kissinger and one of Nixon’s speechwriters, say it was an unforgettable evening of celebration entertained by a Hollywood star-studded line-up, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, and John Wayne.

“It rained all day and it was wet everywhere but there was also not a dry eye in the house,” Ken Khachigian, a Nixon speechwriter, said.

“One of the great occasions of the Nixon presidency,” described Kissinger.

Friday evening’s reunion reportedly marked one of the largest in years.

The POWs were expected to return to the library Saturday for a Q&A. The library is expected to offer free admission on Memorial Day.

RELATED STORY: Vietnam POWs Gather At Nixon Library For Reunion


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