Talk:Vietnam War POW/MIA issue

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Creation of article[edit]

This article has long been needed in WP. For the most part, I've created it by collecting and shaping material from a variety of existing articles, including Missing in action United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs House and Senate career of John McCain, until 2000 National League of Families National Alliance of Families Operation Homecoming Carol McCain Bill Hendon John LeBoutillier Talk:John_McCain/Archive_13 Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Bo Gritz Bobby Garwood. I've expanded it a bit from further material from the sources used in these, but much more could be done. The Vietnam material in Missing in action will accordingly be reduced and pointed to here. Wasted Time R (talk) 23:55, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

This is a WONDERFUL article![edit]

Thank you so much for doing this!

Sean7phil (talk) 01:22, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

OK, thanks. Wasted Time R (talk) 02:46, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Lead too long?[edit]

User:Intelligentsium has tagged the article with {{intro-toolong}}. I respectfully disagree. The article is 45,000 total bytes, and per the table in WP:LEAD#Length, "three or four paragraphs" is the appropriate length for the lead. This one is three paragraphs. Also, in an emotional topic like this one, it's better to cover more not less in the lead, so that every viewpoint can be represented in it. Wasted Time R (talk) 00:05, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

I understand that it is necessary to present all viewpoints, and I acknowledge that the introduction technically conforms to WP:LEAD#Length. I also respect the fact that certain articles, such as this one, may require longer leads. However, while this article's lead has three paragraphs, these paragraphs are rather long. I am concerned that some statements may not be quite as concise as they could be, while still expressing the same amount of material. While 3-4 paragraphs is given as a guideline for articles about this size, there are many good (and longer) articles with much shorter ledes (For example, Medal of Honor). I am concerned that a lead section that is too long may deter readers. I am also concerned that the use of quotes and in-depth detail may not be necessary for the lead section. I believe the lead section can be shortened without removing content. Intelligentsium 19:28, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think the numbers in the first paragraph constitute unnecessary detail, for they give the scope of the number of American missing (which by historical standards is actually quite small) and lay out the dates when things happened. I think the second paragraph gives a solid political and cultural summary of the post-war questions and responses on the issue. So I imagine the real objection is to the third paragraph, which does have two long quotes. For some of the history of the content debate on this matter, see Talk:Missing in action, the general article from which this topic was moved to be its own article here. It was to try to satisfy the emotional aspects of this issue and this edit battle on WP that I incorporated the quotes in the lead, so that both points of view could have their say in their own words in the most visible part of the article. Wasted Time R (talk) 20:40, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

I forgot this question was still pending. Against my judgment, I've moved the long quotes in the third paragraph down into the article body, so that the tag can be taken off. Wasted Time R (talk) 13:36, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Film Popularity[edit]

"Rambo and the Norris films were commercially successful in both the United States and in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, and did much to perpetuate the stock image of American prisoners held in bamboo cages"

Just wanted to say that they were popular in Europe as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:47, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Added to talk page to preserve for improvement[edit]

Note that the bio page for Francisco is one-sided, gives no verification of the NVN newspaper report, and as below, requires improvement.

In 2006, the National Alliance of Families found 1992 documents that they said discussed the admission by Vietnam of capturing a number of missing Americans. The National Alliance contacted the families they could locate, and found that the Vietnamese admissions had been concealed from the families by the U.S. government.[1] The U.S. and Vietnamese governments had given every indication to the families that the men had been killed in their loss incidents. However, at least one MIA, San Dewayne Francisco, was stated to have been reported to be alive by a North Vietnamese newspaper which was confirmed by radio transmissions by Francisco immediately after his aircraft crashed. Anarchangel (talk) 21:39, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

I'm fine with the removal of this, as I agree the sourcing is weak and the viewpoint uncountered. It was included as part of carrying over what had been in the Missing in action article when it was split off to be here. See Talk:Missing in action for the heavy conflict regarding all of this material; I was trying to be more than fair in representing both sides of this issue. Wasted Time R (talk) 21:55, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Akuna: the ships and Jack Bailey[edit]

The article mentions an "old freighter" used by Jack Bailey to rescue Vietnamese boat people in the early 1980s.

The term "freighter" is inappropriate so a correction is in order - though the matter is not straightforward. Two vessels were involved. I have personal experience of them and have also seen various sources, including some online. I hope, eventually, to cite some.

The SS Akuna had been an Australian naval corvette, originally named HMAS Gladstone. In 1979, a time when she was registered in Melbourne as a British ship, she was acquired by the American Christian charity Food for the Hungry International and began operating out of Singapore, rescuing Vietnamese boat refugees. Thousands of them had been leaving Vietnam and dying in large numbers. The Akuna saved hundreds if not thousands of people. (Testimony from two of them - Nam Nguyen and [Daniel] Dien Luong - is available on their Facebook pages.)

In Singapore, Australian authorities put pressure on FHI to change the Akuna's flag - no doubt because Australia did not want to take responsibility (as per international agreements) for people saved by her. The Akuna owners did tell the Australians they would eventually change the flag.

As I understand it, Food for the Hungry operated the Akuna as a mercy ship for maybe two years but then handed over operations to Jack Bailey, ceding ownership of the vessel to him for a token sum.

It is likely (but not confirmed) that Bailey's group re-registered the ship in Panama and renamed her Akuna II.

A year or two later, Bailey was lacking funds to continue his sea rescue operations so the Akuna II was sold to ship-breakers in Bangkok.

A much smaller ship, said to have been a smuggler's vessel which had been seized by Singaporean authorities, was purchased at auction in Singapore and renamed Akuna III. This 275-ton vessel - which I visited in Songkhla, Thailand, in 1983 - had been built as a freezer longliner. In other words she was of the type used for deep-sea fishing, especially for tuna.

At the time that I visited Akuna III, Bo Gritz and his associates had been in Thailand with intentions to cross into Laos to find MIAs. English-language Thai newspapers reported on their activities several times, unfavourably.

Reports on the net claim the Akuna was laid-up in Songkhla for years with the operators seeking donations to rescue boat people and MIAs in what allegedly amounted to a a large scam. Bernard Macdougall (talk) 08:07, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the post. Wikipedia does have an article on HMAS Gladstone (J324), which takes it up through its renaming to Akuna and its used by Food for the Hungry to rescue boat people in 1981. This contemporaneous People magazine story shows Bailey operating Akuna II in 1982, in a description that matches HMAS Gladstone in terms of age and length at least. But nothing in that story discusses MIAs. The book Vietnam Shadows describes MIA search fundraising letters that refer to Akuna III, and as you say that it didn't leave Songkhla for years. These other Google Books hits, which don't include page views, variously describe Akuna III as a freighter and/or smuggling boat. I've changed the description to smuggling boat in the article, and added more on the fundraising and lack of activity aspects. Wasted Time R (talk) 12:29, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Wasted, thank you for your corrections, additions and research. It's much appreciated. If you want more information about the Akuna ships and Jack Bailey, etc, I recommend you see this Facebook page by Nam Nguyen: - you won't be wasting your time. Bernard Macdougall (talk) 14:38, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

Rescue Mission[edit]

I just thought it would be interesting for some of you to hear this- I was in training down in San Antonio, Texas in 2010, with the army and during a weekend off I did some shooting in the countryside where I met a retired colonel in the special forces. He said "officially my unit was out of vietnam in 1973, but we were actually there till 1976." I asked how, if the war was over in 1975? He said "we ran a rescue mission where we got 10 american POWs out of vietnam. There's probably people still there." Just something I thought was interesting. He was def. in the SF, he had a bunch of weapons you can't find down the road in any old gun store... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:37, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a place to publish new information, so personal testimony of this sort is not helpful in editing this article (which is what this discussion page is for). If you have evidence that Vietnam still holds POWs, you might want to take it to a newspaper or an advocacy organization. / edg 12:17, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Film treatment of Vietnam POWs[edit]

The first movie to touch on this topic was "The Deer Hunter", which showed Americans held prisoner in bamboo 'tiger cages', and a rather preposterous sequence involving Russian roulette. This movie set the stage for what was to come. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tonygumbrell (talkcontribs) 03:06, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

But that is set during the war, not after. (talk) 13:41, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Issue played by right for political reasons?[edit]

Another interesting theory I read was that conservatives in the 1970s emphasized this issue to draw attention away from how veterans were being treated by the VA (and by extension the right, which generally votes to cut expenditures on services), at a time when it looked like all voters except for white men were fleeing to the Democrats, the Republicans were scared their party was going to cease to be (think Goldwater); I read this in "A People's History of the Vietnam War" by Jonathan Neale. Not saying it's the whole story, but it make some sense. Historian932 (talk) 15:29, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Soldier left behind but not confined[edit]

After the Vietnam War, some U.S. troops were left behind. In his new documentary film, Unclaimed, Michael Jorgensen tells CBC radio the incredible story of one soldier, John Robertson. I just heard the radio story 2013 December 14 on the programme called DNTO. The USA government is alleged to be very negligent, refusing to help John after the war, after his release by the Vietnamese government. So John staying in Vietnam, married, and started a family. Who can blame him? Recently, now in his 70s, he re-united with his sister in Canada. You could put that into the article if you want. Korky Day (talk) 23:21, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Added, but the story is not as straightforward as the documentary would have you think. Wasted Time R (talk) 03:12, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

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  1. ^ "Bits 'N' Pieces Special: 19 New POW Cases". National Alliance of Families. June 24, 2006.