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”
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.