Arvada woman to donate POW's secret lists

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Washington, DC, November 12, 2015 | comments

Article orginally published on KUSA on November 10th, 2015.

KUSA - An Arvada woman plans to donate her uncle's military papers to the Library of Congress, including secret handwritten prisoner lists he kept as a POW during the Vietnam War.

In 1967, then Lt. Col. John Stavast's plane was shot down during a mission over Hanoi. Stavast was originally classified as missing in action (MIA), and his family did not know if he was dead or alive for years. He was held as a prisoner of war at the notorious "Hanoi Hilton."

During which time, he created lists of other POWs and committed them to memory, in order to inform military commanders if he was released earlier than others. Stavast hid the lists inside Christmas cards he received while imprisoned.

" He felt it was his honor and his duty to serve," Stavast's niece Kathy Mann said.

Mann, of Arvada, inherited boxes of handwritten notes, maps, photos, military records, films, and even letters from President Nixon. She also has shoe boxes filled with support letters from thousands of people who wore POW bracelets with Stavast's name. Mann spent the last few months cataloging everything.Mann said, "I thought, 'Wow. I don't think this belongs in a box in my closet in Arvada.'"

Rep. Ed Perlmutter connected Kathy with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. Mann plans to donate some of her uncle's memorabilia."We really need to maintain these stories so my kids, your kids, the future generations of America know what it's been like," said Perlmutter. "There are times you have to take action, but they are not to be taken lightly."

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