Last updated on November 12th, 2014 at 12:01 pm
They were Navy and Air Force pilots captured in North Vietnam. They were the most uncooperative, influential and subversive POWs during the Vietnam War. These men survived for up to six years in captivity at an infamous POW camp called Alcatraz. Much of their time was spent in solitary confinement. They are the “Alcatraz 11.”
Every year Coca-Cola pauses to honor the veterans and members of the U.S. military who sacrifice to serve their country and protect America’s freedoms. This Veterans Day, the company is recognizing the famed “Alcatraz 11” by reuniting four of the six remaining members of the group during a special recognition ceremony Wednesday evening. The company also will honor the thousands of veterans employed by Coca-Cola.
“Since the 1940s, The Coca-Cola Co. has held a longstanding commitment to support our service members. This tradition continues today as we pay respects to the many men and women, including our associates, who have proudly served their country,” said Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America. “It will be a true honor to welcome and reunite the distinguished members of the ‘Alcatraz 11’ and their families. They embody the incredible sacrifice and perseverance of veterans and their families across the country.”
The four “Alcatraz 11” members who will attend the recognition ceremony are George Coker, George McKnight, James Mulligan and Robert Shumaker. Other special guests include Louise Mulligan, spouse of James Mulligan and one of the founders of the POW-MIA movement, and Alvin Townley, author of “Defiant,” the definitive account of the “Alcatraz 11” experience.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mick Kicklighter, current director of the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Team (DODVCT), will recognize this year as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War during the ceremony. The Coca-Cola Co. is a corporate sponsor of the DODVCT.
As part of the weeklong Veterans Day observance, Coca-Cola also will host its annual USO care package stuffing party today. Many Coca-Cola associates will assemble more than 3,100 wounded soldier care packages. These packages will be distributed to soldiers wounded on the battlefield and evacuated directly to field hospitals with little to no access to basic hygiene items or other supplies.