Atlanta, Nov. 10, 2014 – They were Navy and Air Force pilots captured in North Vietnam. They were the most uncooperative, influential and subversive POWs during the Vietnam War. These men survived for up to six years in captivity at an infamous POW camp called Alcatraz. Much of their time was spent in solitary confinement. They are the “Alcatraz 11.”
Every year Coca‑Cola pauses to honor the veterans and members of the U.S. military who sacrifice to serve their country and protect our freedoms. This Veterans Day, the Company will recognize the famed “Alcatraz 11” by reuniting four of the six remaining members of the group during a special recognition ceremony on Wednesday evening. The company also will honor the thousands of veterans employed by Coca‑Cola.
“Since the 1940s, The Coca‑Cola Company has held a longstanding commitment to support our service members. This tradition continues today as we pay respects to the many men and women, including our associates, who have proudly served their country,” said Sandy Douglas, President of Coca‑Cola North America. “It will be a true honor to welcome and reunite the distinguished members of the ‘Alcatraz 11’ and their families. They embody the incredible sacrifice and perseverance of veterans and their families across the country.”
The four “Alcatraz 11” members who will attend the recognition ceremony are George Coker, George McKnight, James Mulligan and Robert Shumaker. Other special guests include Louise Mulligan, spouse of James Mulligan and one of the founders of the POW-MIA movement, and Alvin Townley, author of DEFIANT, the definitive account of the “Alcatraz 11” experience.
Retired Lieutenant General Mick Kicklighter, current director of the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Team (DODVCT), will recognize this year as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War during the ceremony. The Coca‑Cola Company is a corporate sponsor of the DODVCT.
As part of the week-long Veterans Day observance, Coca‑Cola will also host its annual USO care package stuffing party tomorrow. Many Coca‑Cola associates will assemble more than 3,100 wounded soldier care packages. These packages will be distributed to soldiers wounded on the battlefield and evacuated directly to field hospitals with little to no access to basic hygiene items or other supplies.
Finally, the World of Coca‑Cola is making a special offer to members of the Armed Forces (Active Duty, Reserves and Retired) and their families now through this Sunday, November 16 in recognition of Veterans Day. The attraction offers complimentary admission to members of the Armed Forces on an ongoing basis. During this special promotional period, service members may purchase up to four half-price general admission tickets for their friends and family.
To take advantage of this special promotion, military members and retirees should simply present their valid Armed Forces ID cards at the World of Coca‑Cola ticket windows.
In addition to the Company’s veteran hiring efforts, Coca‑Cola recently joined American Corporate Partners (ACP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce. Over the next year, more than 50 Coca‑Cola associates will serve as mentors to veterans transitioning out of the military into civilian employment.
Coca‑Cola began its support of U.S. military troops in 1941 during World War II when former Company President Robert Woodruff committed “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca‑Cola for five cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.” That same decade, the Company began a more than 70-year partnership with the USO. Today, the Coca‑Cola system provides approximately 2.4 million beverage servings per day to active-duty members of the armed forces, reservists, retirees and their families. In addition, throughout the year many marketing programs pay tribute to and reward veterans for their service.
The Coca‑Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca‑Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company's portfolio features 17 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca‑Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.