What Repatriated Prisoners of War Wrote about Themselves
The repatriation of the prisoners of war (POWs) held in North and South Vietnam took place in the spring of 1973. This group included 564 military men and 23 civilians; all except 71 of the military were officers, and most considered themselves career military men. The majority were Air Force and Navy fliers shot down between 1965 and 1968, with a second group shot down in 1972. Collectively, these men were older, better trained, and better educated than any group of POWs in history. As career military men, most had a fairly clear understanding of the strategic and political position of the United States in its support of the South Vietnamese government. As fliers, most were operating from fixed bases in South Vietnam or Thailand, or from aircraft carriers; in these locations, a great deal of attention had been paid to their health and welfare. Thus, their mental and physical health was generally excellent until their shootdown. Many were injured in the course of ejection and parachute landings, and their subsequent poor medical care, mistreatment, malnutrition, and outright torture are now widely known.
KeywordsReligious Conviction Captivity Experience Solitary Confinement Aircraft Carrier Aerospace Medicine
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