Longtime POW/MIA advocate and wife honored for service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Mayor John Suthers presented the Spirit of the Springs  Celebration Award to Helene Knapp, a local and national leader in the National League of POW/MIA Families, during a special presentation at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum Friday. Knapp was honored for her overall advocacy and longtime service to POW/MIA organizations and families in both Colorado Springs and across the nation.

Knapp’s Air Force pilot husband, Col. Herman Knapp, was declared missing in action on April 24, 1967 during a bombing mission in North Vietnam. Despite at least six excavations of the crash site, his remains were never found. Since that time, Knapp has dedicated herself to raising awareness and funds for POW/MIA initiatives.

“Helene’s outstanding leadership and service has brought national and international attention to the strong Colorado Springs military community and the homegrown POW/MIA advocacy organization Colorado Springs for POWs,” said Mayor Suthers. “Her commitment truly reflects the Spirit of the Springs, and it is an honor to recognize her efforts with this award.”

In the early 1970s, Knapp successfully led influential letter-writing and fundraising campaigns for POW/MIA advocacy. She also testified before Congress on POW/MIA issues and represented Colorado Springs POW/MIA families at the 1971 Geneva Conference on International Human Rights. In 1972, she was elected as the national coordinator for the National League of Families, a volunteer position which temporarily relocated her and her two children to Washington, D.C., where she continued to advocate for the cause as the first POW/MIA wife from Colorado to be elected to this national office.

Knapp’s powerful story is now being told in a traveling exhibit, The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates, which opens to the public Saturday, March 24 at the Pioneers Museum. The exhibit debuted at the Robert J. Dole Institute for Politics at the University of Kansas in May 2017.

The Office of the Mayor welcomes the opportunity to recognize exceptional individuals and organizations within the City of Colorado Springs with a Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award. These awards are presented to recipients by the Mayor or an official designee to honor them for outstanding achievements.