MIA Facts Site

Times of London Article:
Abraham's Bogus Story


You should have come to this page from an article about British citizen Tom Abraham, author of a book titled The Cage in which he claims to have been a captive of "the Viet Cong" for several days while he was a platoon leader with the 1st Cav Division in Vietnam.  His claim to have been a prisoner is bogus.  If you have not read the original article, read it at this link.

The following article was published in the London newspaper The Times of London.   Click on this link to read the article on the Times site.  The article is quoted below because the link may not work -- I do not know how long they archive articles on their web site.


November 20, 2002

Englishman's Vietnam war story 'is just fiction'

 IT WAS billed as one of the publishing sensations of the year: the true story of a gallant young Englishman who joined the US Army and suffered terrible torments in Vietnam.

Tom Abraham’s account of how he was captured by the Vietcong and pushed into a bamboo cage half submerged in a rat-infested lake suggested that he could be the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film The Deer Hunter.

In his book, The Cage, published last month, Abraham recounts how he escaped and returned to England with a chestful of medals, including the Silver Star, then married, had children and built a successful business career.

More than 30 years later, according to the blurb on the back cover, “a trivial encounter with the police began a catastrophic chain of events. He lost everything — his family, his home, his self-respect. It became all too obvious that the psychological and emotional wounds he received in Vietnam were still festering.”

It was fascinating stuff. It earned Abraham an advance in excess of 100,000 and his publisher, Bantam, sold the serial rights to the Daily Mail for a five-figure sum. Radio listeners heard Abraham break down and sob as he told Michael Buerk of his ordeal on Radio 4’s The Choice yesterday.

Veterans’ groups in America, however, say that his story is not true. According to the US Department of Defence, he was never captured, there were no Vietcong tormentors, there was no bamboo cage and no dramatic escape.

Although Abraham undoubtedly served in Vietnam, and was decorated for his service during the war, there are question marks over the central episode in his book. Veterans’ groups are furious about the publication of The Cage.

“Many genuine ex-PoWs have contacted us about Mr Abraham’s book, all of whom are telling us that he is a phoney,” said Mary Schantag, a spokeswoman for the Missouri-based PoW Network.

Mrs Schantag’s group has unmasked more than 700 fake PoWs from Vietnam. “We have never had to issue a retraction or apology since we were founded 13 years ago,” she said.

“Every single prisoner of war from Vietnam was thoroughly documented and debriefed after their ordeal. Abraham does not appear on any record of PoWs or those reported as missing in action during the entire war. I think Abraham is a sick man. His story is a sham. If I met him, what I would say to him you could not put in print.”

At the end of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon issued a definitive list of all personnel, both American and foreign, who were known to have been either reported missing in action or taken as prisoners of war. Abraham’s name does not appear on it.

Only 28 personnel managed to escape from the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese during the entire war, and Vietnam veterans find it inconceivable that Abraham was an unknown 29th.

Paul Galanti, held captive by the North Vietnamese in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” for 2,432 days, is a prominent former PoW who poured scorn on Abraham’s claims. “I know all the names of former PoWs,” he said. “Indeed, our press made a big deal of it when we got back.”

Former PoWs all received an extensive six-month debriefing, combined with hospital treatment, on their return. “His story simply does not gel. None of us were treated in the way he describes,” Mr Galanti said.

Last night Abraham’s ex-wife, Debbie, said that he had written to her every day when he was in Vietnam, but did not mention being captured by the Vietcong.

“He would tell me so much about Vietnam and also include Polaroid photos of his time there,” said Mrs Abraham, 55, a district nurse from Petersfield, Hampshire. “In fact many of the photos in the book are mine — the ones he sent to me.

“Oddly enough, the only thing in the book that I didn’t understand were the 48 hours when he wrote he had been captured and put in a cage. In none of his letters did he say anything to me about this experience. I’ve been meaning to ask him about it but I had no reason to disbelieve him.”

In his book Abraham writes about business failure, drunken violence and a catastrophic domestic life which culminated in him taking a knife to his second wife. He blames his supposed experiences in captivity for triggering this behaviour.

He was not available to comment yesterday. Mark Lucas, his agent, whose clients include the former SAS sergeant Andy McNab, said: “When somebody walks through my door I don’t immediately put my people on to investigate what he says. I cannot produce a signed affidavit from Tom’s torturer, but I am completely convinced by his account.”

Mr Lucas denied that the book stood or fell on the disputed claims of Abraham’s alleged captivity by the Vietcong. “If you like, this story is more about the cage of memory,” he said.

Mr Lucas was unable to produce any documentary evidence to support his client’s claims.

Abraham’s editor at Bantam, Bill Scott-Carr, said: “When you buy a book like this from an agent, you buy it as a package and you have to assume that some checking has taken place.”

Mr Scott-Carr has seen copies of Abraham’s US Army discharge papers. “But all these mention are his dates of service and medals,” he said. “They do not mention PoW status.”

When questioned by Michael Buerk about the veracity of his account, Abraham insisted that he stood by his story and claimed that Pentagon record-keeping was flawed. “I agree there is a listing of missing people and of PoWs, but I have to believe that the list is probably substantially incorrect,” he said. “I can’t say that their records are incorrect, I can only assume that they are because I’m not on it. More I cannot say.”

The PoW Network has now applied for Abraham’s service records under the Freedom of Information Act. Mrs Schantag said: “We know he wasn’t a PoW, but his record will tell us what he really did do in Vietnam. It’s a time bomb ticking under his book.”

Warren “Bud” Williams, a former Green Beret major, said yesterday of Abraham: “In my opinion he deserves recognition for his contributions, but no quarter at all for the false claims. And for him to blame Vietnam for all his misfortunes is an insult to all of us who fought there. I have no sympathy for him.”


Link to original article Link to Guardian article