Bill Hendon

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William Martin Hendon
Bill Hendon.png
Bill Hendon circa 1985
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th district
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1983
Preceded byV. Lamar Gudger
Succeeded byJames McClure Clarke
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1987
Preceded byJames McClure Clarke
Succeeded byJames McClure Clarke
Personal details
Born(1944-11-09)November 9, 1944
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedJune 20, 2018(2018-06-20) (aged 73)
Forest City, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Alma materUniversity of Tennessee, Knoxville

William Martin Hendon (November 9, 1944 – June 20, 2018) was an American author, POW/MIA activist, and two-term Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina's 11th District.

Political career[edit]

In 1980, Hendon ousted two-term incumbent Democrat V. Lamar Gudger to become the first Republican to represent what is now the 11th since 1929. For the rest of the decade, Hendon's rivalry with Democrat Jamie Clarke gained national attention. In 1982, Clarke defeated Hendon's bid for re-election by less than 1,500 votes. In 1984 Hendon gained revenge by defeating Clarke's bid for re-election by just two percentage points—likely helped by Ronald Reagan's landslide victory. In their third consecutive meeting in 1986 Hendon lost to Clarke by one percentage point. Despite being encouraged to run against Clarke for a fourth time in 1988, Hendon declined.

Post-political career[edit]

Hendon inspecting a Vietnam War-era prison, 30 miles (48 km) south of Hanoi, 1993.

His 2007 New York Times bestseller,[1] An Enormous Crime, co-written with attorney Elizabeth Stewart, argues that American soldiers were abandoned in Indochina following the Vietnam War. In its review, Publishers Weekly stated, "controversial former North Carolina congressman Hendon and attorney Stewart make the case that the U.S. knowingly left hundreds of POWs in Vietnam and Laos in 1973, and that every presidential administration since then has covered it up."[2] Kirkus Reviews called it "a sprawling indictment of eight U.S. Administrations.… A convincing, urgent argument."[3]

One day prior to the release of An Enormous Crime, The Raleigh News & Observer ran a story about a passage in Douglas Brinkley's The Reagan Diaries, wherein President Ronald Reagan, following a briefing by then-Vice President George H. W. Bush, wrote that Hendon was "off his rocker" with allegations about Americans held in Vietnam.[4] Bush's feelings aside, after Hendon was narrowly defeated (50.7% to 49.3%) in the 1986 mid-term elections,[5] Reagan appointed him to the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Hendon withdrew his name from consideration for the post in the face of stiff Senate Democratic opposition to his environmental record, and instead accepted a position with the pro-defense American Defense Institute.[6] He would remain an active voice on the POW/MIA issue until his death in 2018.

Hendon died on June 20, 2018, under hospice care in Forest City, North Carolina after long illness at the age of 73.[7]

Tenure in the United States Congress[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by


  1. ^ "New York Times Best Sellers: Hardcover nonfiction, June 17, 2007". New York Times. 2007-06-17.
  2. ^ "Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 4/9/2007". Publishers Weekly (May 2007). 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  3. ^ "An Enormous Crime: The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia". Kirkus Reviews (May 2007). 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  4. ^ "Reagan dissed N.C. lawmaker in his diary". The Raleigh News & Observer. 2007-05-28. Archived from the original on 2007-05-14.
  5. ^ "How the West Was Won: U.S. House". Asheville Citizen. Asheville, North Carolina. 1986-11-06. p. 16.
  6. ^ Molotsky, Irvin; Weaver Jr., Warren (1987-02-23). "Washington Talk: Briefing; Turning Down the T.V.A." The New York Times. New York, NY. pp. B4. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  7. ^ "Former North Carolina Congressman Bill Hendon Dies at 73". US News. June 26, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2018.

External links[edit]