A Statement of Facts
More than 55 years have passed since the first American service
member was taken captive during the Vietnam War (USAF LTC Lawrence Bailey, 23
March 1961, in Laos). During those 55 years America has made and continues to
make extraordinary efforts to account for every American who was captured or
became missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
• During the war American and allied intelligence
specialists interrogated approximately 250,000 enemy POWs, ralliers, and
refugees from Communist controlled areas, examined millions of captured
documents, intercepted hundreds of thousands of enemy radio communications,
monitored foreign print and broadcast media, conducted covert and
clandestine collection operations, etc. One of the key elements of those
intelligence collection efforts was the search for information about
American POWs and MIAs.
• While held captive, American POWs made systematic coordinated efforts to
learn and memorize the names and movements of fellow POWs, to include allied
POWs. When they were released, our POWs brought this knowledge home with
them. In recent years, Vietnamese authorities have released records that are
corroborated by the accounts our POWs brought home.
• Between 1975 and 1988, American specialists canvassed tens of thousands of
residents in Asian refugee camps for information about Americans missing in
• During the 28 years since 1988, American specialists conducted thousands
of investigations and interviews in Southeast Asia that have added to and
clarified our knowledge about the fates of American POWs and MIAs.
years of cumulative effort, knowledge, and experience provides persuasive
evidence that our adversaries did NOT transfer American POWs to any other
foreign country. By the same token, 55 years of cumulative effort,
knowledge, and experience provides persuasive evidence that our adversaries
released all American prisoners who were in their custody in 1973.
For 55 years, the United
States government has conducted an effort to account for our missing men that is
unprecedented in the history of warfare.
Individuals such as former Congressman Billy Hendon who
nourish and promote the myth that we left prisoners behind are either willfully
uninformed or willfully deceitful — sometimes both. Based on my personal and
direct dealings with Billy Hendon and others of his ilk, I believe he and they
willfully deceitful. The
“proofs” he and other POW/MIA hucksters offer consist of a few facts (often
lifted out of meaningful context) that might create an aura of plausibility to
their claims, fleshed out with cherry-picked bits of hearsay, speculation,
rumors, fabrications, tidbits from news articles and books they might have read,
documents in the Library of Congress POW/MIA database, and public records
containing documents and testimony that members of the official accounting
community have presented in Congressional hearings.
Literally thousands of Americans have worked hard for many years to build and
sustain programs that today are allowing us to account for Americans lost in the
old Soviet Union, in North Korea, in Southeast Asia, and many other areas in the
world -- successive administrations, successive Congresses, the Department of
State, the Defense Intelligence Agency, all of the military intelligence units
that served during the Vietnam War, the National Security Agency, the Foreign
Broadcast Information Service, the Joint Publications Research Service, the
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Agency and its predecessors, the Central Intelligence
Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other agencies have contributed
to and sustained our accounting effort.
I am at a loss to understand the logic that allows one to believe that
deceitful, lying hucksters such as Billy Hendon, the late Sydney Schanberg, Mark
Sauter, former Senator Bob Smith, the late Earl Hopper,
Artie Muller, the late Ted Sampley, Jerry Mooney,
"Bo" Gritz, former US Marine Corps Private Robert
Garwood, and a dozen or so others are better
informed, more objective, more honest, and more patriotic than the thousands of
Americans from all walks of life and all corners of our nation who have
contributed their time and talents—and in some instances their lives — during
the last 55 years in the search for answers to questions about our missing
What logic allows one to believe the hucksters’ cover-up-and-conspiracy claims?
In what universe would in be possible or plausible that the thousands of
Americans who have participated in our accounting efforts over the course of 55
years could be complicit in a massive conspiracy to keep fellow Americans
imprisoned in foreign lands?
prisoners of war were shipped from Southeast Asia to other countries.
There is no "secret prison system" into which hundreds of Americans were
spirited away to be held for years for . . . what reason? There is no
"cover-up and conspiracy" being perpetuated by one administration after another.
Since the end of Operation Homecoming in the Spring of 1973, we have been
engaged in a graves registration operation . . . that is, working to recover the
remains of missing men.
long-standing official position that "we cannot rule out the possibility of live
prisoners" is nonsense. It was nonsense when it became a policy statement
and it is nonsense today. Yes, we CAN rule out the possibility.
(June 2016) resignation of the director of DPAA makes no difference. The
effort to recover remains and, in the absence of remains, to determine the fate
of missing men, will continue without abatement. Those who make a major
issue of leadership or policy changes are simply exploiting the matter for their
meetings will continue, complete with seemingly erudite comments by long-retired
former government officials, repeating the same platitudes they have peddled for
years. The same hucksters will peddle the same groundless claims they have
peddled for years. Meanwhile, dedicated military and civilian specialists
will plow ahead, providing real answers to families.