Posted at 10.05.2018
There are many books and tales which feature heroic accounts of survival and sacrifice among the American POWs of Vietnam. These literature are compiled by several different sources including reporters, former military employees, wives of POWs, and the POWs themselves. Many of these literature have a reoccurring matter which connects all of them, the situation of PFC Robert 'Bobby' Garwood. The books generally discuss the reality of the circumstance as offered in his court-martial, plus they also present conflicting opinions as to his guilt or innocence and his statements that American POWs were still in Vietnam after his get away. The spread facts and ideas are rarely put together, compared, and examined, which is the purpose of this research.
Who was Robert Garwood?
Private HIGH GRADE Robert Russell Garwood of the United States Marines was a motor pool drivers stationed in Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1965. At that time, he was a 19 time old senior high school drop-out from Indiana. On Sept 28, Garwood was reported absent at bed check. He was officially reported as an "unauthorized lack" at 0730 another morning hours. Like many POWs, information would surface concerning his shoot and imprisonment by the Viet Cong. Garwood was likely to return during Operation Home coming in 1973, but for unclear reasons did not. In 1979, a Finnish National working in Hanoi was handed an email by a man claiming to be the American POW, Robert Garwood. A couple of months later, Hanoi verified the lifetime of Garwood and added that he had been free for several years and was able to leave at anytime. Upon arriving back in the United States, he was court-martialed and convicted of cooperation with the adversary.
Many people were shocked at the idea of a USA Sea collaborating with the enemy. How could a Marine "crossover?" Why would he willingly stay static in Vietnam for so long? Is he a traitor, or a, misinterpreted frightened soldier? More shock arrived amidst Garwood's assertions that he personally witnessed more POWs still in captivity. How could there be POWs in Vietnam? The influx on information meant to bring answers only helped bring more questions. For the best answers, all edges must be examined.
Robert Garwood: the Traitor
Garwood was delivered to grab USMC officer Winston Groom rather than confirmed. Many reported that Garwood probably had taken a detour to an area brothel, which he previously allegedly done in the past. Upon Garwood's disappearance on Sept 28, 1965, he was officially labeled as "UA" (unauthorized absence) until October 15 when his status evolved to "missing. " On December 3, a letter entitled Fellow Soldier's Appeal was found out near Da Nang. The notice was agreed upon by "B. Garwood. " The notice suggests the United States should stop fighting with each other and return home. After reviewing the letter, Garwood's position was altered to "presumed captured. "
In January of 1966, several ARVN POWs were released from Camp Khu. Their release was not uncommon because it coincided with the Tet holiday break. The surprise emerged when the ARVN officers produced a letter written by Garwood tackled to his mother. Among the ARVN officials also claims to possess been shown a copy of Fellow Soldier's Charm by Garwood himself. In July of 1966, another backup of the notice was found near Da Nang bearing Garwood's name.
Two years later, LCpl Jose Agosto Santos and PFC Jose Ortiz-Rivera were released from captivity and debriefed like all released POWs were. During their debriefing, they reported experiencing Garwood and that he previously "crossed over" to the foe. They said Garwood had participated in a liberation ceremony, accepted a commission rate in the NVA, and implemented the name "Nguyen Chien Dau. " The exact same calendar year, several ARVN troops were released from captivity and reported an American POW who was offered a release switched it down and signed up with the National Liberation Front to utilize the Viet Cong. They reported the North american passed the name Nguyen Chien Dau.
In Feb of 1968, more letters made an appearance under the signature of Garwood. The USMC looked for FBI and CIA assistance in examining the letters to confirm or reject their legitimacy. The CIA concluded six of the words were in fact compiled by Garwood.
In November of 1969, more American POWs were released and corroborated the accounts of Santos and Ortiz. They put into the accounts by saying Garwood was free to roam the camp while hauling an AK-47 and lived in guard's quarters. Furthermore, they stated that Garwood experienced advised them he was heading north to become listed on anti-American organizations. More research against Garwood mounts in July of 1970 whenever a South Vietnamese Guerilla stated to truly have a dialog with an American VC in January of 1969, who called himself Nguyen Chien Dau and stated to own crossed over in 1965.
In 1971, a catch VC claimed to own knowledge that Garwood was taken to North Vietnam and then to Russia for training. This is very significant because this event marks the first time the United States Defense Intelligence Firm became involved in the Garwood circumstance. The DIA did investigate the opportunity of any defector in Moscow, but no further reports nor mentioning of this investigation have become available.
During this time around, the USMC POW Screening process Board met many times to review the case proof against Garwood. Technically, he was still a POW. The Panel concluded Garwood possessed deserted, but the refrained from changing his recognized status from POW to Deserter. Participants of the panel also pushed to stop all pay and benefits toward Garwood. A declaration of desertion could be potentially damaging to the general public image of the Marine Corps because the USMC attempts to project a graphic of the highest professionalism and loyalty from its troops. A label of 'deserter' could be seen as a flaw in the almighty Corps. The USMC was simply participating in it safe with regards to Garwood. To them, the image of the USMC was more important than prosecuting one of their own.
Operation Homecoming of 1973 would bring new and damaging information to involving PFC Garwood. POWs: PFC Pfister, SP4 Lewis, PFC Daly, CPT Kushner and CW2 Anton had get back and most of them had put in time immediately with PFC Garwood. Kushner would say Garwood refused repatriation on several situations and was in truth a commissioned NVA lieutenant who later go to North Vietnam.
The accounts advised by Frank Anton would be most damaging. Anton recounted numerous occasions in which Garwood caused the VC jogging the camp. Anton continued to spell it out how Garwood spied about them, acted as an interpreter during investigations and again refused repatriation. Anton also explained how Garwood required part in the Marxist indoctrination and reeducation classes at the camp. At one point, Garwood actually screamed into the face of another soldier, "You have come to Vietnam Williams, to commit crimes against these innocent people! I hate you Williams, and the ones like you. I spit on you Williams. " By far the most damaging bank account from Anton was the circumstance involving the death of the camp commander's kitten. Once the soldier Russ Grisset finally confessed to the killing of the kitten, the VC captors overcome him viciously. Garwood was evidently upset the other military allowed Grisset to confess and Garwood strolled down the line of POWs and then struck a soldier called Harker in the ribs, knocking him to the ground. Anton also identified the huge grief Garwood demonstrated upon hearing the news of the loss of life of Ho Chi Minh. Anton's last profile of Garwood was through the Homecoming of 1969. Two other POWs had been released and Garwood still left with them. Anton do listen to about or see Garwood again until Garwood's come back in 1979.
Robert Garwood: The Survivor
Despite the numerous accounts of Garwood's collaboration with the enemy, was he just wanting to survive? Initial studies suggest he may have defected from the beginning. However, right before he disappeared, Garwood published a letter to a pal saying how fired up he was because he was departing Vietnam in 10 to 12 days and nights. The probability of a 19 year old with 10 to 12 days and nights kept in a hostile country defecting are highly improbable.
The early release of Fellow Soldier's Appeal advises Garwood underwent strong interrogations and possible torture in the early periods of his shoot. Many other military signed similar words under duress and were not held accountable upon retuning during Procedure Homecoming of 1973. Acquired Garwood went back during 1973, he may not have been as easily indictable as a result of amnesty awarded to so many POWs.
Garwood's age group and inexperience also suggests he would give in to the camp officer named "Mr. Ho" and his wishes if it supposed keeping Garwood in beneficial conditions such as a comfortable bed, decent food, and a further avoidance of malaria and dysentery. We can say for certain Mr. Ho forced Garwood to view ARVN POWs play Russian roulette against one another with the unavoidable result. Reports declare Garwood was kept in "circumstances of barely controlled hysteria" at the vision of the deaths. The question again is what sort of 19 yr old, high school dropout, from rural Indiana, withstand such mental torment? His only notion is always to try to endure at all necessary by this aspect.
The young Garwood needed a mentor for success which showed up as Captain William F. "Ike" Eisenbraun. Ike was a seventeen time veteran who had extensive survival tactics knowledge. Ike encouraged Garwood to learn the Vietnamese terminology in order to minimize surprises and increase the chances of survival. Garwood discovered how to make it through off the jungle by eating certain plant life and pests. Ike's best advice was to "do regardless of the VC tells us to do. Don't piss them off. All of those guards out there has had a family member killed by one side or the other, and they are itching for almost any excuse to blow your ass away. " Garwood was also relieved to learn that Ike acquired also signed words like Fellow Soldier's Charm. The rational behind putting your signature on such characters was survival.
Eventually, Ike recognized he previously doomed himself and Garwood by learning too much. He figure the VC would never let go prisoners who understood their language and could pass on hypersensitive brains and information. When Ike and another POW attempted escape and were found, Garwood noticed betrayed by his coach and started to distrust the other military. Nonetheless, Garwood believed like he lost a dad when Ike passed away from disease and imposed increased work.
Garwood now became more mixed up in indoctrination programs serving as an interpreter and even as an educator. Is this the label of a turncoat, or a guy who learned the lessons of Ike and was committed to survival? When Procedure Homecoming came around in 1973, Garwood had been continuously involved in indoctrination classes and correcting vehicles for the VC and the NVA. You have the opportunity Garwood was afraid to return during Homecoming for concern with prosecution. Many of the soldiers received amnesty upon returning, but how was Garwood to learn this would happen? Regardless of whether he did know, acquired there been other POWs been as ready a participant as him? Again, he had no way of knowing.
Further evidence as to the uncertainty of his engagement is shown in the USMC's investigations and debates over his established status. The plank driven the POWs who may be presented in North Vietnam after Homecoming would be difficult to see and therefore an alteration in position would be unnecessary. This also applied to Garwood who remain grouped as a POW until his come back in 1979. This boosts the question: if the USMC was persuaded Garwood was a defector, then why didn't they officially change his position?
In a BBC interview in 1981, Garwood instructs his part of the story. Matching to Garwood, the VC wanted to make the other POWs think he previously crossed over plus they succeeded. Garwood also says he buried Ike with his own hands which contributed to his melancholy and isolationism. Garwood continues on to say he was found stealing (food for the other POWs) and was sentenced to loss of life. He was delivered to a camp near to the Ho Chi Minh Trail which was soon bombed which brought on him to reduce his eyesight for 6 months. After he regained his perception, he was required into manual labor in North Vietnam. He cases he noticed the 591 brands of POWs to be released on the radio and was saddened when he didn't notice his and thus gave up desire of ever being released. He was then transferred around North Vietnam where he was put to work fixing autos and jeeps. He says that during this time, in 1977, he observed North american POWs in a boxcar outside Hanoi.
He then started making deals with his captors and founded himself as a link in the black market of Hanoi. During this time period, he made friends with a woman names Nana who provided him with information as to which hotels managed international nationals so he could make an effort to contact them and make the outside world aware of his existence. Garwood informed 60 Minutes reporter, Monika Jensen-Stevenson, Nana was performed in from of him by six men who emptied their AK-47s on her behalf.
Finally, Garwood was able to pass an email to the entire world Standard bank diplomat from Finland, Ossi J. Rahkonen. The message was transmit on BBC radio to a surprised world. Garwood wouldn't normally be released for another month. Throughout that month, Garwood was tortured with electric shocks and was told that if he gave up any information about his captors, other POWs still in Vietnam would be executed. Garwood was transported out of Hanoi on a French aircraft where he was presented with champagne and treats. Upon getting in Bangkok, Thailand, he was imprisoned by the USMC for desertion.
Garwood tells an elaborate report of his success, damage, and the sacrifice of his identification. The questions to ask now are; does he make everything up? Why would he make it up? Was he a traitor? Does he just do what any man could have done in his position? This common sense would come from the military services justice system that gets the power to grant him his last freedom, or the ultimate punishment. All the past proof and eye see accounts would be helped bring onward 15 years after his disappearance. All the questions would be responded to, or would they?
The Court-Martial of Robert Garwood
Upon Garwood's go back, the press portrayed him as an unhealthy overlooked soldier who put in the last fourteen years in hell. Furthermore, the bad USMC was planning to court-martial this hero who had recently been through enough. People like POW Frank Anton cannot believe what he was seeing. He could not believe the man who kept him prisoner was being hailed as a poor victim.
Garwood was initially represented by armed service defense attorneys who were led by a civilian attorney hired by Garwood's family. The military defense legal representatives eventually resigned from the truth and the business lead defense legal professional was evolved out before the case was completed. The prosecuting lawyer also resigned partway through the truth.
The proceedings had taken a while getting established amidst controversy within the charges and the possible punishments. Many of the original charges were dropped and Garwood was on trial for desertion, cooperation, and maltreatment. Under the instruction of Chief executive Jimmy Carter, the loss of life penalty had not been to be searched for.
Among the POWs who testified were: Dave Harker (the soldier Garwood punched), Ike McMillan, Willie Watkins, Robert Lewis, Gus Mehrer, Luis Ortiz-Rivera, and Frank Anton. Many of these witnesses have been with Garwood for an extended amount of time and were witness to his treatment of fellow POWs and assistance to the VC.
Garwood's attorney's came into an insanity plea and was established to establish the mental anguish, mental capacity, wartime captivity and isolation resulted in the poor senior high school drop-outs transition to learning to be a "white gook. " However, the prosecution had a strong case with numerous reliable witnesses. The associates of the jury were all older officials and Vietnam veterans.
The witnesses testified to Garwood's activities and abuses toward the POWs. They testified that Garwood got the ability to come and go as he satisfied. Luis Ortiz-Rivera testified that Garwood advised him he was convenient and was cared for better by the Viet Cong instead of the US Army. Harker testified to the reaching event. Frank Anton testified declaring Garwood transported a rifle and took a dynamic role in the indoctrination courses.
Anton also brought up the VC ordered the POWs to treat Garwood like they might treat the regular guards. The POWs didn't comply with this order and Garwood did not push them too. This demonstrates Garwood's detachment from the VC. If there is a case for him acting simply out of survival, this was it. Ike McMillan also testified that Garwood was more of a help the Viet Cong out of your desire to have special treatments. This too can be an sign that Garwood was acting on the advice of his departed coach and just keeping alive rather than "piss off" the guards.
In January of 1981, lots of the charges have been dismissed. The demand of collaboration still stood. The jury got less than an hour to find Garwood guilty of collaborating with the enemy. He would serve no prison time; instead he was demoted to the lowest rank, rejected all pay, and dishonorably discharged. His 14 years in Vietnam was regarded as part of his consequence.
The controversies within the Robert Garwood affair are numerous. The main is his bill of the remaining POWs in Vietnam. Was he resting or telling the reality? If he was showing the reality, then why hasn't the federal government done something? In 1993, Garwood led supporters and a sizable team of reporters to places where he claimed to see American POWs alive in 1978 and 1977. He led them to an extremely specific place where he had referred to in great fine detail throughout a deposition in 1992. He needed these to two apartment style complexes on the Thac Ba Lake in the Yen Bai province. Garwood claimed to have seen these complexes in 1977. The issue is that the complexes was not built until after 1983. It had been later discovered that a person of Garwood's followers possessed made a prior trip to the region and photographed the structures. Although Garwood denies viewing the pictures, he was now severely discredited. Many people deserted their episodes on the federal government and focused their attention to Garwood and his principal supporter Billy Hendon who required the pictures and was a member of an organization known as the "Gray Flannel Rambos" who were nothing more than conspiracy theorists who treasured making trouble for the DIA.
The more Garwood and furious family members pressed the government, the more Garwood received criticism. Senator John McCain who was a 5 calendar year POW in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton, " accused Garwood of being traitor and a liar. McCain would speak out several times against Garwood and his supporters by expressing: "These work as well as others constitute an enduring betrayal of his country. And anyone who may be manipulating Garwood for their own ends is a co-conspirator in this betrayal. "
Garwood the Scapegoat?
During Operation Homecoming of 1973, many troops were accused of collaborating with the adversary and other various offences much like those Garwood were prosecuted for. However, no court-martials occurred right after Homecoming. The White House began viewing the warfare as a reduction on the general public scene and wished to distract from the conflict whenever you can. Although america won the battle battle, it lost the press battle. People were sick and tired of the government and distrust was very high. The White House understood political damage control was needed fast. Long, drawn out unlawful hearings against returning POWs would make the sting of Vietnam go longer.
After the discord settled down, and folks started looking at collaborations with the opponent, Garwood fell into their laps. Did the government will have a scapegoat for all your collaborators? Many experts combined with conspiracy theorists make those assertions today. In addition they make the claim the government desires to silence people like Garwood to cover up the soldiers that are still there and the federal government considers these to be expendable. Since so many years have handed down along with so many people involved in the POW affairs, it may be impossible to ever know if troops were left out. We know communists have retained POWs in the past after the Korean Conflict and WWII, therefore the thought of staying POWs isn't so unthinkable, but confirmation is the adversary theory, no subject how good the intention is behind the theory.
In 1998, Garwood was embraced by three Medal of Honor winners in front of over 200, 000 people at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. A lot of things were yelled from the audience including: "we love you Bobby, " and "such men do not accept traitors. " Naturally the issue is still very next to for a lot of. Some people credit him with being a true hero who works to save lots of North american lives still kept captive. Others consider he's a traitor who got off easy and will more to dishonor POWs by not admitting what he does.
Today Robert Garwood lives in Mississippi and is the source of attacks by a former disgruntled neighbor who boasts that "Robert would demolish my marriage, multiply the most vile is placed about me beyond anything I possibly could have once thought possible, and changed my life upside down. " This individuals thousands of word bill of his encounters with Garwood from 2000 to 2006 appear to be a home stalker case longing to be made into a movie on Life span.
Hollywood have make a designed for Television movie about Garwood entitled THE PAST POW? The Bobby Garwood Storyline. Many of the reviews criticize the film as "Typical Hollywood Whitewash" yet others use the film as an opportunity to rehash the federal government scapegoat theory.
I chose the tale of PFC Robert Garwood because we still don't know all the reality. The only choice is to attempt to understand the reality we have, whether they are distorted or 100% true, they are all we have to go on. As the Iraq Conflict goes on, the question regarding captured American military attended up again. We've turncoats like Walker in Afghanistan, and captured troops who turn up deceased years after their disappearance. Throughout all the books researched and all the pieces of eyewitness accounts, they all reach the same bottom line; only Robert Garwood and his captors know the truth.