American POWs and Vietnam

HaChayal

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I have been reding a bit about the POW/MIA issue that hastaken rise out of America's withdraw from the Vietnam War in the early 70s. I have a basic questions for American vets and specifically veterans of that particular war.

Do you believe that the Vietnamese withheld a certain amount of POWs after the war that were not among the 591 released in 1973?

In my travels and my research I have come across two modes of thought regarding the subject. They seem to go as follows:

A. There were hundreds of American servicemen abandoned at the end of the war and the U.S. government actively covered it up.

B. There were no American servicemen left in Vietnam and all POWs were released.

It seems rather odd to me all of the post-1973 sightings of Americans in Vietnam and Laos. A lot of these eyewitness reports are corroborated by other reports and some are even specific enough to mention the names and ranks of missing persons.

Add to this the fact that several returned POWs report that some of those imprisoned with them were not returned with them and have not yet been accounted for.

I do not have a tendancy toward either of the views above but I do believe that the truth is more often than not some sort of murky middle ground than one extreme.

I find this interesting because in my country we have a similar issue but it is much smaller. We currently believe that one Israeli soldier is currently being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. All SIGNINT and HUMINT reports indicate that he is still alive. All of our other MIAs are either confirmed to be dead or are presumed to have died.

Any thoughts or insight would be appreciated.
 

sfmike

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I do believe that we left a few POWs in Vietnam and adjacent countries after we withdrew from Vietnam in 1972. I don't believe it was hundreds, however.

Garwood came out of North Vietnam after the war. There weren't any POWs released by Cambodia and the only POWs to come out of LAOS was Dieter Dengler and others flying for Air America who escaped.
 

Manolito

Lewis B. Puller for todays problems!
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I think SF Mike hit a big part of the answer. North Viet Nam released the prisoners they had. The surrounding countries possibly held prisoners for the same reason we use guantanamo to keep the inspections and enforcement of certain treatment out of the active interrogations. I also believe a number of young soldiers went Asian and decided to withdraw from the military and the rest of the world and just faded into the landscape. I am not saying a large number but I believe a moderate number.
The US just like most countries have operatives in places they don't belong and I think there are some captured and held without anyone knowing. Not much help I know but the truth is shrouded in fog.
Respectfully,
Bill
 

HOLLiS

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The other part, when a person steps on a 500 lb bomb, they are listed as MIA after that. There is a number of VC/NVA MIA, and it is a very large number. When a area was arc lighted, it was like a gigantic rotor tiller when through the area. It is easy to see that some people would just disappear.

Part II. Mr Charlies did not like keeping prisoners, especially low ranking ones. Do a comparison of WWII POW and the Officers to Enlisted rank ratios. Very different in RVN.
 

Trip_Wire

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In every War that this country has taken part in we have had MIA's as well as POWs that have not been returned. The Korean war is a good example of this as well as Vietnam. In the Korean war most captured F-86 pilots were never returned and most likely were taken to the Soviet Union for interrogation and eventually the Gulag. The Chinese also were known to make POWs disappear .

http://www.nationalalliance.org/korea/korea08.htm

In Vietnam, I'm of the opinion that we left POWs in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Some like the F-86 pilots in the Korean war may have been shipped to the Soviet Union as well, especially those who had special jobs, etc.
 

AWP

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In every War that this country has taken part in we have had MIA's as well as POWs that have not been returned. The Korean war is a good example of this as well as Vietnam. In the Korean war most captured F-86 pilots were never returned and most likely were taken to the Soviet Union for interrogation and eventually the Gulag. The Chinese also were known to make POWs disappear .

http://www.nationalalliance.org/korea/korea08.htm

In Vietnam, I'm of the opinion that we left POWs in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Some like the F-86 pilots in the Korean war may have been shipped to the Soviet Union as well, especially those who had special jobs, etc.

Bingo.

I used to do a ton of reading and research on this topic, and I think TW hit it on the head. Like others I don't see it as in the hundreds, but I think we left far too many to chalk it up to "they disappeared into the jungle and we missed them."

In addition to Trip's statement, the Vietnamese kept THOUSANDS of French after the war and slowly repatriated them in exchange for cash and trade.

I believe the Soviets kept a few Americans who were killed on spy flights in and around Communist nations (RB-47's, RB-29's/ 50's, etc.).

ETA: A list of the losses and attacks during Cold War spy flights:
http://www.spyflight.co.uk/main.htm (Click on "Losses" and the navigation menu). Several airmen and sailors were seen in prison but later disappeared.
 
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