Member and four-tour dustoff medic (68-72) Bruce sends me this poignant reminder of May 1973. I had been home from Vietnam one year and was struggling to make ends meet as a cab driver in Lancaster, California. While not terribly fond of politics in general or Nixon in particular, I nevertheless cheered the release of the POWs- some who were family friends from my youth.
Fortunately for us, warfare has evolved sufficiently that Search and Rescue does not leave quite so many scattered about on the battlefield. It is my fondest hope that Laos or the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Jane Fonda’s adopted country, would step up to the plate and relinquish the information on pilots still held from that theatre. To date, we have only one repatriated from Laos in spite of all that augered in there. We know categorically that many survived punching out as they were observed alive on the ground or were in contact by survival radio shortly thereafter. Their absence with no explanation is the heart of the MIA conundrum and why I will never hold out an olive branch to zipperheads until all have been accounted for. Similarly, I will never just say “Let bygones be bygones” and welcome Jungle Jane back into the fold of civilized human beings. She hasn’t earned it nor will she ever.
This video should make shivers run down your back. “Welcome home” does not begin to communicate the emotion owed by America to her troops who served there and were captured. We have never seen such atrocious behavior accorded prisoners of war in recent history with the exception of the Japanese in World War II. Even North Korea was more accommodating albeit not by much.
The humble nature of these POWs is unique. They are proud to be Americans and not apologists. They kept their faith in spite of the bleak prospects of incarceration and torture. They continue to this day to be thankful to a President who, though in no way responsible for beginning hostilities, did not shrink from what what was necessary to bring them home alive without turning it into the typical political Dog and Pony show. I don’t know about you all but it makes me very proud to have fought with them. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.