A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Remember Them

Over at Euphoric Reality, Heidi has a post on the topic: Are There Still American POWs In SE Asia?

Here is an excerpt:

The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
- George Washington

Are there American POWs still alive in Vietnam? I remember back in the early 1990’s, when I was a young Army officer, this issue was temporarily in the public eye, as Congress debated endlessly. Personally, I was horrified at the thought of American prisoners still alive and imprisoned in Vietnam, for all intents and purposes abandoned by our government. It went against everything I believed about my country, and about the code of military honor. “No man left behind” echoed through my head whenever I read newspaper reports about the possibility. It literally turned my stomach, and I admit, it was much easier to believe that there was NO such possibility than to acknowledge that our country had knowingly and purposefully left men in hell. That didn’t bode well for me or any other soldier serving our country since then! But worse than that, it meant that the disrepute of our government concerning Vietnam was far more rotten than I’d ever imagined.

In the 1980’s, the latter of which I was enlisted in the Army (yes, I did both), Hollywood banked on the certainty that POWs were still alive and imprisoned in SE Asia. The movies I grew up on assumed that there was enough public interest in the subject, and they were right! Millions of viewers were served up adventure tales of solo rescue missions – some successful, others not – but ALL were based upon the absolute certainty - common knowledge even - that our government had failed to rescue our abandoned servicemen.

So, why didn’t we know for sure?? With the advent of satellite technology that can read a license plate from miles overhead; the certain development of intelligence assets in Vietnam; and our covert ops capabilities; why couldn’t we answer this all-important question once and for all? It seemed like our government truly did NOT want to know. Because to KNOW makes one responsible for the knowledge, which would then require action. So, the follow-on question was: why was action not an option? Such unsanctioned rescue operations couldn’t be impossible, after all, Braddock, John T. Booker, Colonel Rhodes, and John Rambo did it! [/sarcasm] I especially couldn’t reconcile the fact that we had covert capabilities that should’ve been able to put an end to such questions, and/or rescue anyone left behind.

Let’s go back for a moment and look at the end result of the Vietnam War:
Please, take a minute to read the rest.