US Troops Captured in S. Vietnam

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Sep 12, 2010.

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  1. I was watching one of the Yank historical series of movies and they where discussing Pilots captured over N Vietnam.
    The movie then seems to show a 'Trooper' being secured by tying his elbows together behind his back.
    What I found interesting was the 'Ranger' Flash on the guys shoulder.
    The man seemed to be dressed as a soldier not as an Airman.
    Where some pilots also Ranger qualified, Possible I would suggest.
    Or was this a Trooper captured in South Vietnam ?
    What became of US Troops captured in S Vietnam ?
    Where they taken North or executed ?

  2. Hard question to answer. There probably wasn’t a typical captivity experience.

    The guy in the middle of the front row was the first American to be captured and survive. ‘Jim’ Floyd Thompson, was shot down by tribal people near the border with Laos in March 1964. The tribal people handed him over to the Pathet Lao who eventually handed him over to the Viet Cong. For four years he was kept in tiger cages in various jungle camps in Laos and South Vietnam.

    In 1968 he was transferred to Prison camps in North Vietnam. First at Skid Row, then at The Rock Pile and finally at the Hanoi Hilton. He was released in March 1973.

    Others, like Robert Garwood, defected to the Viet Cong.

    If you were CIA and unlucky enough to be captured then, like Tucker Gougelmann, you’d probably be tortured to death.

    The only Brit captured by the VC was a civilian contractor, William Wallis. Wallis was captured by the VC on Valentines day 1965. Information from VC defectors suggests that the VC kept him prisoner for about a year before killing him in 1966.

    (Edited to add: Doh! Thomas Guy Cornthwaite, British, was captured and killed almost straight away)


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  3. Had never heard of Tucker Gougelmann, tough bastard good to hear his family eventually got out.
  4. There was another Brit who joined the US Army and was captured, and subsequently wrote a book about it. Can't remember the chaps name.
  5. Hi Bb6.

    There is no question that Tom Abraham’s pants were definitely on fire.

    You linked to Joe Schlatter’s excellent MIAFACTS site. The guy who did the expose on Abrahams for Schlatter was in fact another Brit who had served with the US in Vietnam, Nigel Brooks. Like most Nigel’s, Mr Brooks is pretty sound and Abrahams bleats of US criticism being partisan are untrue.

    There is an amazing phenomenon in the US where more people either claimed to be Vietnam POWs or alternatively MACV-SOG or SEAL Commandos, than actually served in Vietnam. Abraham's followed a well trod path.

    I recently read a good explanation of why these ******* walt in the way they do; Gary Kuliks “War Stories” is well worth a look.

    In the US people have built careers around and made fortunes from the POW/MIA issue. The most shameless of these opportunists, is a fellow called Bill Hendon who maintains, even today, that there is a secret prison underneath Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum in Hanoi holding US POW’s from the war. I shit you not.

    How they smuggle the supplies of Zimmer frames and incontinence pads past the queues of pilgrims and tourists is never adequately explained.

    The JFK Assassination, Vietnam MIA’s, truthers and BarryO the Muslim, it’s all part of the pattern.

  6. I suppose there are walts everywhere and of all kinds. Over here the favourites are "I was a Recce" (Reconnaissance Commando) or "I was a Selous Scout".

    Returning to the original topic some guys taken prisoner in the south remained there. 1st Lt Nick Rowe was one of them- he eventually escaped after over 5 years in a camp in the Mekong Delta:

    James Nicholas Rowe, Colonel, United States Army

    Others like his comrade Capt Rocky Versace were not so lucky:

    Humbert Roque Versace, Captain, United States Army
  7. There’s the rub BB6

    Walts like Abrahams get in the road and ‘crowd out’ the authentic yet amazing stories.

    You’re probably the right person to ask. Has Clive Mason been done on these forums yet?
    Happy to be corrected but:
    Royal Marines- Borneo
    Australian SAS – Vietnam
    Sadly KIA with the Selous Scouts- Rhodesia, born in Cheshire?

    Back on topic. In Vietnam, Australians took plenty of prisoners. There was a pom in the RAR who was actually decorated for arresting a VC rather than shooting him. The name escapes me, I’ll see if I can dig up the citation.

    On the other hand, no Australian prisoners were taken b y the Viet Communists, even in circumstances that in another conflict at another time and place, surrender might have perhaps been an option. I’m specifically thinking of the circumstances surrounding Dasher Wheatley’s award of the VC. For mine, it resonates with the most recent award of the MOH for many of the same reasons.

    I’m just guessing but being a prisoner of the Taliban or the VC would rank about the same on the ugly scale.


  8. Yes that's right. Sgt Clive Mason, Selous Scouts, KIA during a raid on a FRELIMO outpost at Malvernia, Mozambique, 13 March 1977.

    Cpl with 1 and 2 Sqns, Special Air Service Regt, Vietnam, Nov 1970-Oct 1971. He was in a patrol commanded by another Brit, Lt Andy Freemantle (formerly Royal Hampshire Regt, returned to Brit Army after Australian service and retired as a Brigadier). Mason was in the Royal Marines 1960-69 and served in 40, 41 and 42 Commandos including some time in 40's Recce Troop and service in Borneo with 42.

    A brief biography of Clive Mason and of his involvements around the world
  9. How good are you?

    This will test you!

    How many Rhoddies served in Vietnam and also made Brigadier?

    Name, title of the book and sign of the zodiac if you please.

  10. If you're thinking about John Essex-Clark he was actually an Aussie who for some reason joined the Southern Rhodesia Staff Corps, originally as an trainee pilot, but washed out, was eventually commissioned into the Rhodesian African Rifles, later served with the RLI, left Rhodesia before UDI, commissioned into the Aussie Army and served with 1RAR in Vietnam, retired as a Brigadier in the early '80s. other than that I don't know.
  11. I will try to answer your original question John. Briefly, some US servicemen captured in the south were sent north, some died in captivity or were executed in camps in the south, a few (3 I think) were released by the VC/NVA for propaganda reasons, 1 was freed in a US raid on a VC camp but subsequently died of his wounds (though quite a few ARVN prisoners were safely freed in similar raids). EDIT: Quite a few escaped not just Nick Rowe, there is a list here:

    AII POW-MIA - SEA Escapees

    The numbers captured in the south were very small compared to those POW/MIA in North Vietnam (mainly aircrew) or Laos (aircrew and MACV-SOG operators). Very few of those missing in or over Laos were ever heard of again. A few (USN pilot Dieter Dengler is the only one I can think of right now) escaped successfully.
  12. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Ref Brits serving with the Yanks in Viet Nam: Haven't read John Banks' (he of Angola and Col Callan fame) biography, but did a google search as I recall reading that he'd done some freelance work in Viet Nam during the American war. Stumbled onto the following blurb which says he claimed to have been accepted into the US SF before being kicked oout because his brother was running guns for the Viet Cong no less!

    A brief biography of John Banks Biography, listing some of his involvement around the world