This day in 1973 saw Operation Homecoming commence, whereby American prisoners of war being held in Vietnam were released. After a series of diplomatic negotiations that ran throughout January, on February 12 three C-141 transports flew to Hanoi in Northern Vietnam with one C-9A aircraft sent to Saigon in the south to pick up released prisoners of war.
The first flight of 40 U.S. prisoners of war left Hanoi in a C-141A, later known as the Hanoi Taxi. From February 12 to April 4, there were 54 C-141missions flying out of Hanoi, bringing the former POWs home. Each plane brought back 40 POWs. During the early part of Operation Homecoming, groups of POWs released were selected on the basis of longest length of time in prison. The first group had spent 6-8 years as prisoners of war.
After Operation Homecoming, the U.S. still listed around 1,350 Americans as prisoners of war or missing in action and sought the return of roughly 1,200 Americans reported killed in action and body not recovered.