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Is Herndon taking advantage of POW/MIA families?

In the February issue of the Veteran, magazine of the Vietnam Veterans of America, there was an article “Cold Case” by Bill Hendon accusing the DIA, former President Ronald Reagan, and former POW John McCain of covering up the discovery of live american POWs still being held in South Vietnam. A heated discussion of the article ensued at Sandpoint’s monthly V.V.A. meeting (second Tuesday of every month at 6 pm at VFW Hall, corner of Pine and Division) with most of the participants convinced by Hendon’s article. I took no part in the discussion preferring to research it first. What I found later disturbed me. Hendon himself tried to extort a million dollar payoff from the DIA claiming to have proof positive in a video shot of the POWs. The DIA refused to pay for a film they hadn’t seen and 13 years later he still refuses to produce his alleged film. I wrote the following letter to the editor of the V.V.A. Veteran and they plan on printing an edited version in their next issue. Here is the unedited version:

To: V.V.A. Veteran

  A brief, disappointed note concerning the Vietnam Veterans of America’s recent Veteran excerpt of Bill Hendon’s book “An Enormous Crime.” He makes extravagant, exaggerated claims in the first few pages alone that various credible sources reported as fact that American POWs were still being held without naming a single case as having been found to be substantiated. He then claims the DIA (Defense Investigative Agency) was the agency whose task it was to “dismiss, manipulate, and assail, ultimately destroying the value of the (POW) intelligence,” again, without giving us a single bit of evidence.

In the cases he mentioned, the first, case #1792, he first complains that it took four years to investigate, rather than congratulating DIA for their thoroughness. After exhaustively interviewing villagers in the locale (Hendon mentions only four) the DIA found the report to be unsubstantiated. In case #3055, a Greek merchant seaman reportedly sees ten caucasians hauling lumber in 1984; the DIA discovered it was a tale told by “a friend of a friend” yet still they laboriously tracked down the only Greek ship to have traveled close to the area and found the report to be a fabrication.

In case #0558, the purported POW Camp at Dong Vai, Hendon claims the DIA did “nothing, ever” to investigate, yet in the very next paragraph we learn that the suspected messages and numbers in the fields were determined by satellite and U-2 imagers to be nothing more than natural shadings in the field and naturally occurring shadows in the garden plot. The crude letters “USA” in another field were traced to be the handiwork of a young Laotian fan of America.

Hendon is welcome to disagree with the DIA’s conclusions but to accuse them of a massive cover-up does a disservice not only to the hundreds of men and women working in the DIA honorably, but more importantly, to the families of the POWs and MIAs themselves by offering them a false hope. He accuses Former President Reagan of beginning the conspiracy and former POW John McCain himself of joining in the massive cover-up.

Too many groups and individuals are exploiting the hope and fears of the POW/MIA families. Operation Rescue, for example, has a boat anchored in the South China Sea, the Akuna, paid for with donations, yet for years now they’ve yet to produce a single prisoner and their “founder,” Jack Bailey has been found to have exaggerated his military record. Former Green Beret “Bo” Gritz has undertaken a number of highly publicized “rescue” missions into Vietnam in which he mostly hawks his commemorative POW-Rescue t-shirts. Scott Barnes, another “former intelligence operative” once claimed he’d seen live POWs in Cambodia but had been ordered by the CIA to kill them. The National League of POW Families accused him of exploiting the MIA issue for personal gain and at least one MIA wife has mortgaged her home to pay his expenses.

The Senate Investigative Committee on POWs has found “the stories about live POWs that led to over a million dollars being contributed to the rescue groups was instead totally fabricated by the marketing firms and telemarketers hired by the POW Rescue Groups themselves!” Of all of the credible POW/MIA reports investigated by the DIA, fully one-third of them can be traced to just one person, former PFC Deserter Robert Garwood.

The V.V.A. Veteran should not be a party to promulgating falsehoods and offering false hopes.

 Thank You;  

 Jody Forest

 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vietnam ‘67-’69

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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