The PoW Network - History

P.O.W. NETWORK :: P.O. Box 68 :: Skidmore, MO  64487-0068 :: Voice 660-928-3304

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RIP Chuck Schantag
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For more than a decade we have answered a very interesting question. "Do you have information on our Prisoners of War?" This was not done through editorializing or personal opinion, but by distribution of hundreds of thousands of pages of information -- first by paper copy, then by computer Bulletin Board Service file transfer, and now by Internet e-mail.

In recent months, the value of our work has "hit home." Within the last few years, more than forty former prisoners of war from the Vietnam Conflict have passed away. Their dedication to freedom and their stories did not die with them. Fortunately, their stories are recorded in our archives, and in the biographies posted on this site.


  • We have been a non profit since November 11, 1989. Our status is based on our "education - information distribution" classification. Our IRS 501 (c) (3) tax-deductible ID is 42-1360341.

  • We were the first to have a Computer Bulletin Board System totally dedicated to the POW issue.

  • We can truly say that BBS, the information distributed, and those that used it for timely information helped pass the bill that established the Senate Hearings on the POW issue in 1992. That same hearing cleared our organization with a finding of legitimacy, and total volunteer effort. The Senate stated we had one of the largest computerized libraries of POW information available to the public. This finding was published in their final report.

  • We are the unofficial historians for the 803 Prisoners of War that returned during Vietnam.

  • We have the only searchable, copyrighted data base of biographies available for home use on ALL the POWs from the Vietnam conflict. The data base is used worldwide by researchers and concerned individuals alike. It is in use at the  National Park Service, the POW Museum in Andersonville, GA and the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA. We are the original source for most POW biographies on the Internet, including those used at SCOPE Systems.

  • We host a historical word searchable archive to help with special research. It contains family letters, shared documents, more than one thousand five hundred pages of live sighting reports, transcripts of testimony, news articles, and various United States Government lists. Thousands of articles are in the archive.

  • Our material has been used by Congress to prove fraud or truth. We have helped Senators and Congressmen alike research the issue.

  • We have provided documentation for TV documentaries, books and newspaper articles, coast-to-coast and around the world.

  • We currently help the United States Navy Bureau of Personnel return bracelets to the living POWs.  We personally forward all bracelets or letters to POWs from any branch of the service.

  • We answer all questions regarding, "Did he come home?" or,  "Was he really a POW?" Fraudulent POWs are publicly exposed on the Internet and reported to authorities.

  • We provide information on how and where to get a flag, bracelet, or other awareness items.

  • We have in the past hosted vigils and candlelight services. We speak on the Prisoner of War issue whenever asked, no matter how large or small the crowd. We  have all  been guests on television and radio talk shows many times over the years. Several thousand people attended the candle light service on the Mall in Washington DC one Memorial Day when we spoke. We have provided all this information at "remote" sites during  reunions or veterans affairs. In addition to the computerized information, we carry maps, books, print material, rosters,  pictures, and any other relevant material we can. 

  • We spend seven days in Branson, Missouri, every Veterans Day during "Branson Veteran's Homecoming." Our events there have become our  largest annual undertaking. We also host the Annual Military Gala & Banquet - the formal affair held in Branson during Veterans Homecoming each year.  We are committee chairs for COMMAND CENTER BRANSON, the exhibit hall with information, pins, patches and more. In 2001 the GALA hosted over 700 veterans and friends. Joining us were 7 Medal of Honor recipients, numerous former POWs, Chosin Few survivors, 40 members of the Army Nurse Corps, retired and active duty officers, Senators and Representatives (U.S. and MO), and vets from all branches and wars. 2002 will have seating for 1000; 2003 seating for up to 2000.

  • In April of '98, we joined 180 former Vietnam Prisoners of War at the Silver Anniversary Dinner hosted by the Nixon Library, in Yorba Linda, California. In May of '98, we joined more than 280 returnees and 500+ guests for a four day, Silver Anniversary Reunion in Dallas, Texas. A once-in-a-lifetime event, we enjoyed a BBQ at H. Ross Perot's "Circle T" ranch, a wonderful evening at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, and a formal dinner and concert at Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall. Each day during  the reunion, we continued the updates on these living hero's biographies. This work has been our largest recent undertaking. These two memorable events allowed for the posting of many of the pictures  of returnees you see with the biographies. Our association as "friends of" NAM-POWs, Inc. is an honor and a rare privilege.

  • The fall of 1998 established a new collaborative effort between the Son Tay Raiders Association and the P.O.W. NETWORK.   It will be an honor to help maintain the accurate history of the Son Tay Raid, as well as identify those that fraudulently claim "I was there."

  • In 1999, Chuck Schantag  and Ron Petersen were extended an invitation to join the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association. The invitation, extended to less than 17 individuals since the Association founding, was humbly accepted. The organization is made up of exclusively of pilots that flew over Vietnam, with the exception of the 17 or so individuals who did not meet that membership criteria.

  • In 2000 we received an invitation to participate in the US Air Force Academy's 19th annual POW Symposium in Colorado Springs. POWs from WWII through the Gulf War shard their experience with the cadets and military scholars or historians that attended from all parts of the globe. In addition, the collection of Vietnam POW memorabilia, owned by Lee Humiston, and supported by many viewing this site, was donated to and placed on permanent display at the Air Force Academy during the Symposium.

  • In 2001, Drew Cottril joined the board of directors. 

  • In May 2002, The NETWORK once again joined former POWS and hundreds of River Rats  for a reunion in Fort Worth, TX. Ross Perot was once again a gracious event host  - hosting almost 750 people at his ranch. Mary and Chuck Schantag were privileged to spend time with Col. Jim and Phyllis Hivner at their home in Plano prior to the scheduled reunion. Drew Cottril once again made history,  presenting Col. Hivner and the P.O.W. NETWORK (each) with a original oil painting. Col. Hivner's was  his 2002 "Freedom Flight".... the NETWORK's..... the "Mission," as of yet, unfinished. [ The mission unfinished, not the painting!!) For those of you that are unaware of Drew's contribution's to the NETWORK - the logo we use was an original oil by Drew. The copyright to the lithograph was given to the P.O.W. NETWORK by Drew a couple year's ago.

  • In July, 2002, Ron and Pam Petersen left the NETWORK after many years on the board. The board of directors is undergoing expansion and reorganization to highlight the changes over 13 years. The Petersen's expected a first  grandchild in 2002, solving the "free time" dilemma.

  • We all have worked (some now retired), have families, and are unpaid volunteers. We have no paid employees, and work with a host of experts that help us around the world. They ask no compensation for their efforts.

  • In November 2001 the NETWORK hosted the 6th Annual Military Gala & Banquet. As hosts of the event, Mary and Chuck Schantag were surprised and honored with the 1st AMBASSADOR'S AWARD presented by the Ambassador of Patriotism, Mike Radford, for their work on the POW/MIA issue.

  • In November 2003, the NETWORK hosted the 7th Annual Military Gala & Banquet. The guest of honor and recipient of the 2003 AMBASSADOR'S AWARD was H. Ross Perot. He was honored for more than 50 years of contributions to veterans, POW/MIA families and POW returnees. 

  • In May, 2005, The P.O.W. NETWORK was named Red River Valley Fighter Pilot's "Association of the Year."

  • In December 2007, the resignation of Drew Cottril was reluctantly accepted. Terri Howard has replaced Drew and will continue her 18 year association with the Network in a now official capacity. 

  • In February 2008, Advisory Board member Daem O'Keeffe resigned due to health problems. Sharon Robinson accepted the position to replace him.

  • On December 1, 2008, the resignation from the Board of Directors of Terri Howard was accepted. Terri will return to a volunteer capacity in the office.  Steve Robinson, former Navy SEAL, replaced Terri and now will continue his association with the Network as a member of the Board of Directors.

  • The 14th Annual Military Gala & Banquet hosted the United States Air Force Entertainment troupe TOPS IN BLUE for R&R and to perform at the GALA.

  • On August 30, 2011 the Network added 2 more members to the Board of Directors.

  • On February 23, 2012, the Network unexpectedly lost one of it's founding members, and Chairman, Charles Schantag.

  • On February 29, 2012 the Network initiated a change of officers and added Sharon Robinson to the Board of Directors.

  • On October 10, 2012 the Network added C. Diane Shipley to the Board of Directors, and moved Don Shipley into the position of Vice President. Steve Robinson remains on the Board of Directors.

  • On June 2, 2013 the Network added Erich and Teresa Anderson, and Kelly Robbins to the Board of Directors.

  • In May of 2013 Network Chairman, Mary Schantag joined former Vietnam POWs, their families and friends for the 40th Anniversary of their Homecoming, celebrated at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA. Several days of events, BBQ's, tours and dinners made for a memorable event.


Board of Directors

Chuck Schantag, founder and chairman of the NETWORK,  served with the Marine Corps, India 3/5 from 1965 through 1968.  He earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam during Tet 68. He and Mary reside in Missouri. 
Mary is the researcher and archivist for the NETWORK.
Neither are former POWs nor POW/MIA family members.

On February 29, 2012, Mary Schantag was elected Chairman of the Board after Chuck's passing.

Pic courtesy of SWIFTSHOTS, Gala 2011

 Charles Patrick Schantag, Jr.

Memorial services for Charles �Chuck� Patrick Schantag Jr., age 64 of Branson, MO were held Sunday, February 26, 2012 at Greenlawn Funeral Home Branson, MO with Chaplain Mike Jones and Father Philip Conlon officiating.  Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

He died at 3:28 P.M. Thursday, February 23, 2012.

He was born on November 22, 1947 in Philadelphia, PA the son of Charles Patrick and Louis Schantag.  He had been a resident of Branson and Skidmore, MO.  He was the Chairman of the P.O.W. Network, a Disabled Vietnam Veteran, USMC Purple Heart recipient. He was also a member of MOPH, DAV, River Rats, Honorary member of MOZARK  MOAA, NAM POW�s, USARA and SFA.

He is survived by his wife, Mary P. Schantag nee Butkiewicz, Branson, MO.  A son, Charles Schantag and his wife Jackie of Clinton, IA., a daughter Miranda Schantag and her husband Ryan, stepdaughters Jennifer Renshaw and her husband Troy of Maryville, MO and Teresa Howard of Skidmore, Mo.  Five grandchildren, Molly, Mason, Jackson, Hayden and Toraleigh.  Sisters, Marlene Turner and her husband Gary of Solkatna, AK and Dyane Carey and her husband Gorge of Charlotte, NC and a brother, James Schantag of Philadelphia, PA.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Patrick and Louis Schantag.  Also, a sister, Louise Schantag.

Steve "Tiny" Robinson is a former Navy SEAL. He served in the Navy from 1970-1978, and was with SEAL Team ONE. He and his wife Sharon, a former Branson entertainer, reside in Missouri. Neither are former POWs nor POW/MIA family members.

Don Shipley retired after 24-years as a SEAL Senior Chief in 2003. He served  at  SEAL Team ONE, SEAL Team TWO,  the Naval Special Warfare Center, and Naval Special Warfare Group TWO in Little Creek Virginia as a SEAL Advanced Training Instructor. 

He served in eight SEAL Platoons, was Platoon Chief in five, and awarded the  Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism during a Search and Rescue Mission. He also conducted numerous operations in Bosnia and Liberia, Africa  while at SEAL Team TWO.  

Setting records for immense water and land demolition shots and running High Risk training courses, he also served as an Explosive Expert instructing Police Departments across the country in Booby Traps and Improvised Explosive Devices.

After retirement he became a security contractor, spending  a year in Pakistan and Afghanistan fighting the war on terror. He resides in Virginia with his wife and daughter.  

In October, 2012, C. Diane Shipley was nominated unanimously approved as a member of the Board of Directors. Diane is Don's wife and is active in his efforts to expose phony SEALs.

Kelly Robbins 
U.S. Army Veteran
Branson, MO

Kelly comes from a family of military veterans and has volunteered within the veterans community and her Church for years. Her oldest son is a member of the Branson High School ROTC and is considering military service in the Marine Corps.


Erich and Teresa Anderson
        Gulfport, MS

Erich served in the:

U.S. Army Reserve 1991-1993
Mississippi Army National Guard 1993-1994
U.S. Air Force Reserve 1994-1995
U.S. Air Force 1995-1997
Mississippi Air National Guard 1997-1998

Erich is the founder of Veteran Tributes.  Both are active in numerous military organizations. Erich's great uncle, 2 Lt John R. Mars, was shot down in WWII and is still missing.

P.O.W. Network Advisory Board

Maj. John L. Simpers, 
Helicopter Pilot, 196th LIB, 361 AVN (Vietnam)
Omaha, AR

Col. Jim and Phyllis Hivner,  USAF (Ret)
  former POW
Plano , TX

CW4 Bill Medsker, USA (Ret)
Helicopter pilot/instructor
Graham, MO

SFC Gary L. Reno, USA (Ret)
Engineer, Vietnam

Life Member: American Legion, VFW, DAV
Kearney, MO

Ms Stormy Lynn Snow
Marketing and Public Relations Specialist
Branson, MO
Proud Mom of a Army Medic!

Recipient of the Avis Gutz Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism

TSgt Jasper and Yvonne Page, USAF Ret
former POW
Calban, CO

LtCol Paul Backs USMC (Ret)
LtCol Susan Backs USA (Ret)
Army Nurse Corps, Vietnam
Leavenworth, KS

"Chef Jim"  Lekander
Branson, MO

Ed Burge
son of Bob Burge, Vietnam Veteran
Mayfield, KY

C. Steve Jaeger
U.S. Army veteran, Ranger
Des Moines, IA



In Loving Memory

Captain John Koutrakos
U.S. Navy Retired
February 2, 1927 � October 27, 2011

P.O.W. Network Advisory Board Member

CW4 Robert G. Burge USA
Vietnam Veteran
Mayfield, KY
[Rest in Peace, May 14, 2011]

P.O.W. Network Hospitality Liaison
Ms Avis Gutz

Forsyth, MO
[Rest in Peace, Dec 28, 2002]


Millions of people have visited our Web Site. In addition, every day, we receive about hundreds of e-mail messages asking for information. Some are simple answers to simple questions as in, "Did he come home?" We have students requesting help for term papers and journalists needing  research documentation. We are proud and grateful to be able to respond to  each and every one of those inquiries with documentation and material from our archive.


This historical preservation project is funded entirely by voluntary contributions.

The P.O.W. NETWORK is grateful for your help and support.

Please make checks payable to the P.O.W. NETWORK.
We also accept VISA/MasterCard/Discover Contributions.

Box 68
Skidmore, MO 64487-0068
Phone 660-928-3304

23 years in service 1989-2012
Worldwide Electronic Information Distribution
The P.O.W. NETWORK is a non-profit EDUCATIONAL organization

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