AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of people have gathered in Americus for the Ride Home Event.
It's become an annual event to honor soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war.
This is the 14th year that the annual Ride Home event has taken place in Americus.
"You don't forget any of that. It's still vivid in my mind," said Bill Arcuri.
Arcuri was flying B-42's during the Vietnam War.
"About 9 O'clock at night and we got hit by two surface air missiles," said Arcuri.
It was December 20th 1972.
"We were able to keep it flying for two minutes until we lost all control and we had to eject," said Arcuri.
Arcuri landed in Yin Ven crippled with two dislocated knees. He was picked up by villagers and brought to the North Vietnamese military.
"My wife had no idea other than the telegram that I was missing in action," said Arcuri.
Thanks to an agreement by President Nixon on January 22, 1973, Arcuri was released after 55 days with men who had been prisoners for eight years.
"They were my heroes. What I experienced over there was nothing in comparison to what they experienced," said Arcuri.
After spending years keeping to himself, in 2006, Arcuri decided to reach out to others like him.
"I had just held it in for so long that your emotions kind of burst out on you," said Arcuri.
Since then, he has taken part in the Ride Home event and become a part of a number of similar organizations.
Moe Moyer is the national co-chairman of the Honor-Release-Return advocacy group that put together the Ride Home event.
"Our style is multiple ceremonial," said Moyer.
It started with a dedication at the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville followed by a Heroes Banquet to pay tribute to those missing in action and acknowledge prisoners of war.
"We want them to mostly remember WWII former prisoners of War. Without those guys we wouldn't be talking today. We would be in a different control situation. This is a great turnout. This is one of the better, largest turnouts that I have seen," said John Butts, Ride Home Board of Directors.
There were a number of speakers at the dedication including a former Seal Team 6 member and the daughter of a man still missing.
"There are family members here who have been waiting for their loved ones for over 70 years," said Moyer.
There are more than 83,000 American soldiers still missing in action today. He said this weekend is about paying tribute and promising to their families that they will not stop looking.
"The real horrors issue here is to get answers for the men and women who are still missing in action," said Moyer.
Besides paying tribute, Arcuri says this gives people the chance to interact with others just like them.
"The more you talk about it an the camaraderie with a group it just becomes so much easier," said Arcuri.
Saturday will be the final event of the weekend. Family members of those still missing in action will be presented with presidential proclamation metals.