All’s fair in love and war or so one would think….

but not all casualties of war occur on the battlefield.

This photo shows a joyful reunion and really touched and captured the imagination of America in 1973. The photograph is called “A Burst of Joy” and won the Pulitzer prize.

38 years ago, Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert Stirm was reunited with his family in California upon his release from North Vietnam. Robert was held for 6 years as a prisoner of war.

Lorrie Stirm, his 15 year old daughter is shown here with out stretched arms was and first to welcome home her father.  His wife Loretta and the rest of his family rush to greet him.

A photo capturing a moment in time and a happy reunion?

All of his children have a copy framed and proudly displayed in their home. Robert does not. He says this photo is just “too painful to look at.”

The day Robert was released from the prison of war camp in Vietnam, his wife sent him a “Dear John” letter informing him she had found someone else and delivered to him his divorce papers.

The couple divorced, went their separate ways and within a year…Loretta had remarried.

Robert asked for custody of his 4 children and was denied by the courts and denied the Stirms suburban home and their car. Robert was ordered to pay monthly child support. In addition, he was ordered to hand over 40% of whatever pension he would eventually receive.

Of the $136,000 Loretta received during the time he was held as a prisoner of war, the court ordered she pay back $1,500 she spent traveling with other men.

Robert now retired from the Air Force said “All those dreams I had as a prisoner of war turned to dust”

A Burst of Joy

Robert served honorably.

It is unknown if his ex-wife Loretta keeps a copy of this photo in their her home of this moment of happiness, this brief burst of joy.

About jeb610

Taking one day at a time, and enjoying life in the heart of Dixie. People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk. There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.
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6 Responses to All’s fair in love and war or so one would think….

  1. CalFed says:

    For what it is worth, Loretta Faye Adams,formerly Loretta Stirm died in 2010 of cancer.

  2. kerbey says:

    Now you have made me sad.

  3. ldsrr91 says:

    Man-Man, that is cold. I got one in Viet Nam it read: “Dear John, I am sorry I missed the boat, I met a man with some righteous plans, and Jack that is all she wrote.”


  4. Anonymous says:

    With her passing, he’s been reunited with HIS much deserved military retirement.

  5. Brian White says:

    I’m not much for carrying grudges but I am as appalled by this as I was 40 years ago

    I really don’t understand how she lived with herself, and if she didn’t answer to a higher power I hope her end was reasonably painful

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