In Laos


Posted on : 5/01/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

The United States government left our military members in southeast Asia after the Vietnam war.

The validity of that statement has been frequently debated, proven, debunked, held near and dear, and held in contempt.  It has spawned an entire industry.

The POW/MIA bracelet I wear bears the name of one Marine that very well could have been alive at the end of the war.  Although the odds of finding him alive today seem remote at best.

The Laotian government claimed to have had hundreds of US military members held as POWs at the end of the Vietnam war.  The US government declined to include Laos in the talks that concluded that conflict.  What happened to those men?

At least one of them remains alive today.

John Hartley Robertson is in his early 70s.  He has a wife and four children.  He no longer speaks English.

And he is the subject of a documentary by Michael Jorgensen.

After Toronto, the documentary moves to Washington for a highly anticipated screening May 12 at the seventh annual GI Film Festival. Jorgensen acknowledges his film has many unanswered questions: Why didn’t the military contact Robertson’s family since it’s now known reports of his survival were circulating as early as 1982? And if Robertson was known to be alive in Vietnam, “Why did the Americans leave him there for all those years?” Are there other John Hartley Robertsons in Vietnam? (Jorgensen says “a highly placed source” has told him there are and it’s not because the Vietnamese won’t let them go; “it’s like [the U.S. military] doesn’t want them to come home.”) But there’s hope the Washington showcase can build some momentum for answers.
Why indeed does the US government not want these surviving POWs to return home?

Or at least those that still want to come home.  Perhaps after being coldly abandoned to the whims of their captors, they, like John Hartley Robertson, are home.  They and their remaining families deserve to have a choice.

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