MIA Facts Site

Phony POWs

Phony POWs?  What is this about?  Believe it or not, there are individuals out there who claim to have been prisoners of war in Vietnam who were not -- many of them either never served in Vietnam or never served in uniform.   Phony POWs.  And, they show up all over the place.  When I was in the POW-MIA office, we would receive telephone calls from family members, representatives of veterans' groups, or reporters asking for details on the exploits of a former POW.   Often they needed this information because the man was about to be honored by some group.  One of my favorites was a guy in Connecticut for whom the town was about to erect a monument.  When we checked things out, in every case, we found a fake POW.

If you encounter someone claiming to be a former POW from Vietnam and you suspect that the individual may be a fake, send me an e-mail message and I will provide you with some questions to ask.

Real Returned POWs -- The NAM-POWs

Update (12/24/99):

The organization NAM-POWs maintained a web site on which they listed known phony POWs.  In mid-December 1999, the site was removed from the WWW.  The effort to maintain the phony POW listing was taking a lot of time and there was concern over possible legal action from anyone who might be named incorrectly as a phony POW.  NAM-POWs is an organization of returned POWs from SEAsia.

The NAM-POWs home page, "Three's In," is at this URL:


One example of a phony

Here is an example of one individual who is a phony POW:  "Dr." Larry Pistilli.   Pistilli  is one of the principal sources in a book by Mark Sauter and James Sanders, Soldiers of Misfortune.  This book is touted by the MIA cult as telling the truth about the abandonment of US POWs from WWII and Vietnam.  In fact, it is a collection of nonsense.  Pistilli claims that he was assigned to I Corps in 1965 "working on special classified missions."  He claims that he was captured, taken to a Vietnamese prison camp near the Chinese border where he observed Chinese and Soviet interrogators selecting US POWs for transport to China and the Soviet Union.  There is one problem with this story.  Pistilli never served in Vietnam, was never a POW.  Pistilli was in the Army from August 3, 1964 to July 31, 1967.  He was with the 57th Signal company in Korea.   The rest of these clowns have equally phony stories.

List of phonies

Here is a link to several pages that list phony POWs, their names and aliases, their claims, and facts about them.  This information is maintained by the "POW Network," a group of MIA "activists" who have no connection with the US government.  While their information on phony POWs appears to be accurate, readers need to be careful of believing everything on this site concerning Americans missing in SEAsia.  This list of phonies is divided alphabetically; the link below takes you to the introductory page where you will find links to the pages listing names of known phonies.


Phony Navy UDT/SEAL Team Members

Each of the military services has special operations units with both unconventional and conventional warfare missions.  Because of the specialized nature of their missions, the individuals in these units are subject to specialized selection, training, and assignment.  There is no way to describe a one-size-fits-all special operations individual or unit. 

The most well-known of the special operations units are the Army's Special Forces (sometimes incorrectly called the Green Berets) and the Navy's UDT/SEALs.   Because of the reputations that these units have for going where angels fear to tread, no one should be surprised that "wannabes" often claim to be a Special Forces or SEAL veteran.  My experience is that the guys who are the real special ops veterans are usually the quietest.  They and their comrades know what they did and they don't need to tell everyone about it.  I read a comment by one guy who said:  "Approximately 800 Navy SEALs served in Vietnam and I have met all 2,000 of them. "  Enough said.  (Note:  My apologies to the Navy SEAL folks -- there is a specific designation for the SEALs and I probably got it wrong.   If anyone reads this article and I have an error, please e-mail me and I will make the correction.   Thanks.)

This site is maintained by SEALs.  The site has information on SEALS and a big section that exposes phonies:



These links will take you to web sites that also expose phony UDT and SEALs. One site is maintained by an individual who was  a photographer for the UDT and the other by a guy who states that he was not a SEAL.  The stories of the phonies are amazing. 


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Sort of makes you wonder, if the Vietnam War was so unpopular, why do so many folks want to be Vietnam Veterans?