World War II Veterans Get A Taste Of Viet Nam


It's been fifty years now since the young men who went off to fight in Europe during
World War II have come home. When their feet touched the soil of the "good old USA" the
flags were waving and they were treated as returning heroes. Most went on to build happy
productive lives, content that the government that they had fought for had a just and righteous
cause. Until, that is, Friday night Sept 11, 1992. On that night the television program 20/20
ran an expose on POW-MIA's. In that report it was revealed that the commander in chief of
the allied armies, Dwight D. Eisenhower, calculatingly wrote off as dead 45,000 American
soldiers he knew to be alive and held as captives by the Russians. By the Russians?

Jim has not slept since Friday night. Jim was with General Pattion's Third Army. He
had been in all the bloody battles that became part of the long march to Germany's heart-
land. Jim was asked to watch 20/20 by a Vietnam Veteran who was active in the POW-MIA
cause. An issue, that until that night, had never been much of a concern to many World War
II Veterans, as they had "won" the war and all returned home. At least that is what they had
been led to believe for the last fifty years by the politicians in Washington. But with the
collapse of the Soviet Union, America's communist ally in WW II, access has been gained to
heretofore secret files, kept by the KGB on slave labor camps there.


20/20 went to Moscow seeking information on fifty or so American pilots shot down
over North Vietnam and know positively by the Defense Intelligence Agency to have been
transported to the Soviet Union where their technical skills were needed. Instead of finding
the fifty Vietnam Vets, they found that 45,000 U.S. solders from World War II had died in
Soviet prison camps. Men who had been transferred from German POW camps as they were
over-ran by the Reds, to the Soviets Union. To make matters worse for Jim, 20/20 showed
the graves of several WW II veterans who had died as slaves in the Soviet concentration
camps. Suddenly, the POW-MIA issue has new meaning for the World War II generation.

Jim keeps thinking about Sgt. Wood, his friend in third platoon. During the Battle of the
Bulge in December of 1944, part of his regiment was overran by the Germans in their last
offensive of the war. Third platoon had the right flank. The German Panzers swept over
their position. Later when the Germans were driven back only 22 bodies were found out of
80 or so men, Sgt. Wood was not among them. Jim believes Sgt. Wood, and some of the
others, may have ended up in Russian hands in Siberia. Part of the 45,000 Americans held
for the last fifty years by the Soviets. But don't be mad at the Soviets, they offered to send
them home to their wives and children if the U.S. government would hand over all the
Russians who had fought with the Germans.


Eisenhower and Truman with one swoop of the pen declared the Americans dead. Wrote them off.
Condemned them to slavery. Left them. Jim's is not mad at the Soviets. Jim knows what every
Vietnam Vet knows. That the government of the U.S. is utterly corrupt and cares nothing for the
men who fight their wars.

You see, this is exactly what the government has done to the 2,700 Vietnam POW's---written
them off. Condemned them to slavery. Left them.

Suddenly, the generation gap does not seem so big between the brave young men of
1941, and the equally brave one's of the 1960's. Both have been betrayed by the same
government. Both are now mad as hell.

Louis Beam