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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Vietnam War POW Porter Halyburton to deliver
URI's 114th Commencement address

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 25, 2000 -- After touching the lives of students, faculty, staff and others who attended the University of Rhode Island's Fall Honors Colloquium, The Legacies of Vietnam, with his direct accounts of the lessons learned from his war experience, Vietnam War POW Porter Halyburton has been asked to deliver the address at the University's 114th Commencement. Halyburton will speak at the undergraduate Commencement ceremonies to be held on Sunday, May 21 at 12:30 p.m. on the Kingston Campus.

"As this spring marks the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War we are delighted that Porter Halyburton has accepted our invitation to return to campus to speak to the entire University community at our undergraduate commencement," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "Those who attended his lecture earlier this year found both his message and his delivery to be gripping and inspirational. Rising above his personal sacrifice, Mr. Halyburton remains a role model for peace and understanding."

Nominated by many of the students and faculty who attended the fall colloquium, Halyburton will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the commencement ceremony. He is one of four individuals who will be presented with honorary degrees this year in recognition of their unique contributions to the University, the people of the State of Rhode Island, and the nation.

"I think Porter Halyburton is an ideal choice as commencement speaker. As we all head out on our diverse paths, the senior class will leave URI having heard an enlightening tale of forgiveness and understanding from a heroic, yet humble individual," said graduating senior Kyle Zambarano, a history and political science major who participated in the Honors Program and also served this year on the University's Honorary Degree Committee.

Born in Davidson, N.C., Halyburton left the United States in May of 1965 for Vietnam as a naval flight officer with his first squadron, VF-84. During the following six months, he flew 75 combat missions before being shot down and captured on October 17, 1965. He was the 40th American prisoner taken in North Vietnam. After his capture, he was listed as killed in action, and his hometown held a memorial service in his honor. A year and a half later, a Vietnamese informant revealed that Halyburton was still alive and his status was upgraded to prisoner of war. He was held as a POW for seven-and-a-half years. In 1973, he was released following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

Upon his return to the United States, Halyburton was assigned to the Naval ROTC Unit at Georgia Tech. During this time, he finished his graduate studies in Journalism at the University of Georgia. Halyburton was then assigned to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he has been on the faculty as professor of strategy since his retirement from active naval service as a commander in 1984.

Halyburton's military decorations include the Silver Star, three Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars, seven Air Medals, a Navy Commendation Medal, and the POW Medal. The Department of the Navy awarded him the Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

A resident of Bristol, R.I., Halyburton currently serves on the board of directors of Save Blithewold, Inc. He is a guest lecturer at Brown University, CCRI and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He has served as president of the DeKalb Council for the Arts, chairman of the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, chairman of the Blithewold Advisory Council, vice-chairman of The Heritage Trust of Rhode Island and senior warden of St. John's Episcopal Church.

The three other individuals who will receive honorary degrees are: Lt. General John Bruce Blount, an acclaimed military hero, and a member of the 50th anniversary class of URI 2000; Robert J. Higgins, president of Commercial and Retail Banking and a director of FleetBoston Financial and a 1967 URI graduate; and the Reverend Dr. Virgil Wood, pastor of the Pond Street Baptist Church in Providence, and a nationally recognized educator, scholar, and civil rights leader.

For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116

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