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  • Laos: How many stayed behind by choice?

    OK, to follow up with who we may have left behind - There were those who walked off the reservation so to speak - Were there really all that many? Were there any "Colonel Kurtz" myths that really happened?

  • #2
    Colonel Kurtz is a character from Joseph Conrad's book, "Heart of Darkness". The original story takes place in Africa, however, for Apocalypse now the screen play was written using the Vietnam war as a back drop.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Leonardo63 View Post
      OK, to follow up with who we may have left behind - There were those who walked off the reservation so to speak - Were there really all that many? Were there any "Colonel Kurtz" myths that really happened?
      Joe Schlatter was Deputy Chief of the Department of Defense POW/MIA office and also was with the Defense Intelligence Agency prior to that.

      Here's an excellent summing up of what the US knows about folks who "walked off the reservation". He and Bob DeStatte put the number at about 40. http://www.miafacts.org/aa.htm
      Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
      Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
      Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
      Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

      Comment


      • #4
        I remember going into down town Can Tho one day with our platoon sargent to get something.............I just got a secondary glance at a Black guy. obviously an american back in the crowd.. wearing a "papa san " hat and local vietnamese dress............I always thought he was a deserter who had gone "native"

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        • #5
          While possible, don't forget a lot of French African Colonial troops served in Vietnam. I remember the case of the self crowned Emperor of the Central African Republic went to Vietnam and came back with "his" daughter. He later returned her and got a different young lady who was his daughter. maybe he got it right the second time?

          Pruitt
          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by nbrooks503 View Post
            Joe Schlatter was Deputy Chief of the Department of Defense POW/MIA office and also was with the Defense Intelligence Agency prior to that.

            Here's an excellent summing up of what the US knows about folks who "walked off the reservation". He and Bob DeStatte put the number at about 40. http://www.miafacts.org/aa.htm
            Great link! Thanks!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by nbrooks503 View Post
              Here's an excellent summing up of what the US knows about folks who "walked off the reservation". He and Bob DeStatte put the number at about 40. http://www.miafacts.org/aa.htm
              Excellent read. Although, the story of Salt and Pepper is so intriguing that I almost wish it was true.

              Thanks for posting the link.

              Cheers,
              Dan.
              So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

              Aldous Huxley: Ends and Means (1937)

              Comment


              • #8
                I always thought Colonel Kurtz was Tony P. Tony lived in Thailand for years after the war. He drank too much and shot his .45 too much when he was drunk. He left a few years before I returned so I don't have any first hand information. Not that we would have talked. I doubt we would have gotten along well. Tony was a legend of course everything from rescuing the Dali Lama to cutting off heads and the ear thing...

                I often wondered what happened to all the guys who lived on Tu Do. The explanation of them leaving before the fall seems to make sense to me.

                It wouldn't have been that difficult to get to Thailand. I had a passport when I came to Vietnam but never used it. You can buy most anything in Thailand and passports or visa stamps are no exception. If it had been me I would have gone to Canada or Europe at the time instead of staying in Asia. I can't remember which but wasn't some country in Europe accepting GI's no questions asked?

                I have met a lot of Vietnam Vets in Thailand and all went home and then came back.

                I am sure it is no surprise to people that there were a lot of army people making big bucks during the war and getting money out of Vietnam though difficult was not impossible.

                It is not hard to live in Thailand. Everything is cash; rent, phone, utilities, water. When you get an electric bill you go to 7/11 and pay it in cash. Gold is just like currency with trade in small bars and rings and such. There is a gold shop on every corner.

                So if you were running brothels or bars during the war in Vietnam it would not have been impossible to transfer the gold to Thailand and convert it to cash or a business. A foreigner can't own land but can own a business and lease the land. But the whole process is easier for an American because of the Treaty of Amity done in the 1960's so it makes sense to be a legal American. I would imagine a lot of guys came to Thailand on R&R hid their assets one way or another and then came back later.

                A $5 greenback was worth 25 P it wasn't hard to figure out ways to make money in Vietnam. And if one could not figure out how to scam M day one wasn't really trying I guess.

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                • #9
                  The story of the salt and pepper team is to some extent true Dan M.This"intel"was put out to Marine line companies in 1969 as an alert and a warning.I have no other first hand information on them other than we were told salt was a Russian and pepper was a Cuban.Did we buy it?Never say never.The grunts of Bravo would have loved to have wasted them.
                  As for the"stay behinder"deserter,nva rallier,collaborator,nva officer,traitor Robert Russell Garwood aka Nguyen Chien Dau

                  ,I do believe that our paths crossed on the night of 28 Aug 69.the night Bravo 1/3 was over run and our Skipper killed.
                  Nva declassified information revelled that the enemy had the capability to intercept our radio communications and successfully impersonate U.S.ground forces on the radio to call in our air or artillery on U.S.positions,undetected.
                  The enemy on 28 of August 1969, transmitted on a radio frequency that was supposedly known only to battalion and our Skipper an immediate movement order to abandon Bravo's night defensive perimeter due to a large enemy formation advance bearing down on Bravo's position.Enemy unit ID's were given in the order(absolutely useless information)I was at the command post,the Skippers fightinghole,when this order came over the radio,well after dark.The radio transmission sounded just like any other that I'd heard in the last 9 months.The Skipper sent us SL's to"saddle up"our squads and be ready to move.I knew the men werenot going to be happy to have to crawl out in front of their holes and retrieve their claymores and trip flares and then move down off the hill but they did.I did'nt know what was going on at the CP,but we were ready to move when the next order from the Skipper was to disregard previous order and dig in.Well now everthing turned into"one big circle jerk".I had to get one of my fireteams back out on LP and my fireteams on the perimeter had to reset claymores out,screw the flares, in front of their fighting holes.I coax,no I lied to them and told them we were going to be hit,for sure,tonight.lies I told tired Marines to get them to setup their claymores again,lies that would come true.
                  The plan of the nva was to ambush Bravo company as we came down off that hill on the same path that we had cut that day.Due to the dark they knew our probable route and they were right about that,we would have used that path,and paid dearly for it.Once the enemy determined that their trap had failed,up they came on that same path to attack our perimeter.My squads fighting holes covered the end of that path.
                  The fireteam that was on LP radioed that there was heavy movement along the path and they were coming back into the perimeter.As the fire team got to the holes they had dug earlier that night on the perimeter the nva were already in them and the LP ran back into a treeline,cut off from the rest of the company,one wounded.
                  As we in our holes are playing chicom -frag tag I hear our Skipper from behind us telling us not to fire our rifles untill we had hard targets.We knew that.The enemy responded to that with a volley of RPG and chicom over our heads and at the Skipper.I dont know if that was when the Skipper and his RTO got hit or not.I do know that no nva got past my squads holes after one of my fireteams fired the two claymores covering"that damm path".Our section of the perimeter was quiet after that but there were still"gooks in the wire".We sat out the rest of the attack till dawn.I'll never know how they nva got into my LP's holes so quickly.
                  We killed more of them that night than they got of us,but I learned why Indian's wanted to stop fighting after their chiefs got killed.
                  Bravo was never the same
                  To get back on topic,I think that the traitor Garwood was on that radio that night.
                  The history addict asked me,"Where did you fought?"
                  Me...Damn..."I'm not sure."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That was a great story Jerry, and kind of gave me goosebumps thinking that, someone who used to be an American, would be responsible for the death of his own countrymen. The whole Garwood story was quite interesting and caused me many shakes of the head. Strange bird that should have died in jail imo.

                    The article says around 40 odd deserters- that number seems amazing to me in the overall scope of 10 years and a couple million plus pairs of boots.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hankwill View Post
                      The story of the salt and pepper team is to some extent true Dan M.This"intel"was put out to Marine line companies in 1969 as an alert and a warning.I have no other first hand information on them other than we were told salt was a Russian and pepper was a Cuban.Did we buy it?Never say never.The grunts of Bravo would have loved to have wasted them.
                      As for the"stay behinder"deserter,nva rallier,collaborator,nva officer,traitor Robert Russell Garwood aka Nguyen Chien Dau

                      ,I do believe that our paths crossed on the night of 28 Aug 69.the night Bravo 1/3 was over run and our Skipper killed.
                      Nva declassified information revelled that the enemy had the capability to intercept our radio communications and successfully impersonate U.S.ground forces on the radio to call in our air or artillery on U.S.positions,undetected.
                      The enemy on 28 of August 1969, transmitted on a radio frequency that was supposedly known only to battalion and our Skipper an immediate movement order to abandon Bravo's night defensive perimeter due to a large enemy formation advance bearing down on Bravo's position.Enemy unit ID's were given in the order(absolutely useless information)I was at the command post,the Skippers fightinghole,when this order came over the radio,well after dark.The radio transmission sounded just like any other that I'd heard in the last 9 months.The Skipper sent us SL's to"saddle up"our squads and be ready to move.I knew the men werenot going to be happy to have to crawl out in front of their holes and retrieve their claymores and trip flares and then move down off the hill but they did.I did'nt know what was going on at the CP,but we were ready to move when the next order from the Skipper was to disregard previous order and dig in.Well now everthing turned into"one big circle jerk".I had to get one of my fireteams back out on LP and my fireteams on the perimeter had to reset claymores out,screw the flares, in front of their fighting holes.I coax,no I lied to them and told them we were going to be hit,for sure,tonight.lies I told tired Marines to get them to setup their claymores again,lies that would come true.
                      The plan of the nva was to ambush Bravo company as we came down off that hill on the same path that we had cut that day.Due to the dark they knew our probable route and they were right about that,we would have used that path,and paid dearly for it.Once the enemy determined that their trap had failed,up they came on that same path to attack our perimeter.My squads fighting holes covered the end of that path.
                      The fireteam that was on LP radioed that there was heavy movement along the path and they were coming back into the perimeter.As the fire team got to the holes they had dug earlier that night on the perimeter the nva were already in them and the LP ran back into a treeline,cut off from the rest of the company,one wounded.
                      As we in our holes are playing chicom -frag tag I hear our Skipper from behind us telling us not to fire our rifles untill we had hard targets.We knew that.The enemy responded to that with a volley of RPG and chicom over our heads and at the Skipper.I dont know if that was when the Skipper and his RTO got hit or not.I do know that no nva got past my squads holes after one of my fireteams fired the two claymores covering"that damm path".Our section of the perimeter was quiet after that but there were still"gooks in the wire".We sat out the rest of the attack till dawn.I'll never know how they nva got into my LP's holes so quickly.
                      We killed more of them that night than they got of us,but I learned why Indian's wanted to stop fighting after their chiefs got killed.
                      Bravo was never the same
                      To get back on topic,I think that the traitor Garwood was on that radio that night.
                      I think that Garwood might have been in the north by 1969, but I could be wrong. If you've got a lot of time on your hands, there's a wealth of information here: Just type "Garwood" into the search box.
                      http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/powquery.html

                      I found one where some guy was interviewed after he had gotten out of the service and had claimed he had witnessed Garwood driving a truck full of NVA dressed as ARVN and that they had attacked a US base.
                      http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/pwmia/PDS2/118362.pdf
                      and
                      http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/pwmia/PDS2/118277.pdf

                      Couldn't locate any further info as to whether or not the story was BS (you would think that the witness would have reported it at the time it happened), but I think its safe to say that if this had actually happened, Garwood would have been charged.
                      Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
                      Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
                      Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
                      Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        On the subject of - "Laos: How many stayed behind by choice?", I wanted to repeat a piece I first posted two years ago but was reluctant to do so for fear of being reprimanded by Miss Saigon. However, I'll take the risk and post it since I believe some of the newer members may find it interesting.

                        From ‘The New York Times’
                        29th August 2008.

                        American MIA swims to freedom after 35 years captivity in Laos

                        Charles Z. Kurtz returned home to his family in Newark, New Jersey today after a thirty-five year ordeal in Indochina after being shot down over Laos in 1973. An Army spokesman said that after so many years in captivity, it seemed that Mr. Kurtz hardly knew who he was anymore and would have to undergo special medical treatment at the Richard Nixon Memorial MIA Hospital, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

                        Kurtz was found swimming beside a small fishing boat carrying a fishing net when special MIA investigators found him last Friday. The investigation team, led by George W. Powell said that Kurtz had been located in the Mekong River near the small Lao town of Tha Deua opposite the Thai town of Nong Khai at around 6.00pm, using the latest Satellite Human Interception Technology. ‘At the time of interception an undercover Lao government agent nearly foiled the whole operation,’ he added. ‘It seems she was posing as Mr. Kurtz’s wife.’

                        Mr. Kurtz’s real wife Amy was delighted to have recovered her husband. ‘I have been married four times since I lost him,’ she said, ‘but now I know I was only ever in love with Chuck. I know he looks very different today from how he looked before, and it’s sad that he’s nearly forgotten how to speak English, but I’m just so glad he’s safe. Love will always find a way,’ she added embracing a frightened Kurtz. "I am not Mr Kurtz, I am Prasavong Maliavarn," repeated a rather agitated Kurtz in broken English at a press conference yesterday.

                        But controversy surrounded the reunion yesterday with some of the family suggesting that Kurtz was an impostor. ‘That’s not my son,’ said Kurtz's mother, ‘He always loved Ketchup on everything, now he only wants fish sauce,’ However Pentagon officials dismissed claims of a possible mix up.

                        ‘The fact that he no longer speaks English, looks Lao and claims to be a fisherman and have a family in Laos, is quite normal for returning MIA’s,’ said Edward P. Cookooclock, Chief Psychologist at the Pentagon. ‘Claims that the $100,000 reward for those locating living MIA’s could have affected the case are totally unfounded,’ he added.
                        "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
                          On the subject of - "Laos: How many stayed behind by choice?", I wanted to repeat a piece I first posted two years ago but was reluctant to do so for fear of being reprimanded by Miss Saigon. However, I'll take the risk and post it since I believe some of the newer members may find it interesting.

                          From ‘The New York Times’
                          29th August 2008.

                          American MIA swims to freedom after 35 years captivity in Laos

                          Charles Z. Kurtz returned home to his family in Newark, New Jersey today after a thirty-five year ordeal in Indochina after being shot down over Laos in 1973. An Army spokesman said that after so many years in captivity, it seemed that Mr. Kurtz hardly knew who he was anymore and would have to undergo special medical treatment at the Richard Nixon Memorial MIA Hospital, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

                          Kurtz was found swimming beside a small fishing boat carrying a fishing net when special MIA investigators found him last Friday. The investigation team, led by George W. Powell said that Kurtz had been located in the Mekong River near the small Lao town of Tha Deua opposite the Thai town of Nong Khai at around 6.00pm, using the latest Satellite Human Interception Technology. ‘At the time of interception an undercover Lao government agent nearly foiled the whole operation,’ he added. ‘It seems she was posing as Mr. Kurtz’s wife.’

                          Mr. Kurtz’s real wife Amy was delighted to have recovered her husband. ‘I have been married four times since I lost him,’ she said, ‘but now I know I was only ever in love with Chuck. I know he looks very different today from how he looked before, and it’s sad that he’s nearly forgotten how to speak English, but I’m just so glad he’s safe. Love will always find a way,’ she added embracing a frightened Kurtz. "I am not Mr Kurtz, I am Prasavong Maliavarn," repeated a rather agitated Kurtz in broken English at a press conference yesterday.

                          But controversy surrounded the reunion yesterday with some of the family suggesting that Kurtz was an impostor. ‘That’s not my son,’ said Kurtz's mother, ‘He always loved Ketchup on everything, now he only wants fish sauce,’ However Pentagon officials dismissed claims of a possible mix up.

                          ‘The fact that he no longer speaks English, looks Lao and claims to be a fisherman and have a family in Laos, is quite normal for returning MIA’s,’ said Edward P. Cookooclock, Chief Psychologist at the Pentagon. ‘Claims that the $100,000 reward for those locating living MIA’s could have affected the case are totally unfounded,’ he added.
                          Edward P. Cookoo clock????

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                          • #14
                            Len,the thought of his name triggers a murderous desire of vengeance deep within my soul.Get over it?Nope.
                            nbrooks,my amateurish post is of an action at a place called Nui Cay Tri Ridge aka Mutters Ridge,five kilometers south of North Vietnam.Garwood's story is that he worked on a farm in North Vietnam.Never say never?
                            Philip,...Edward P.Cookooclock???
                            Last edited by hankwill; 27 Sep 12, 00:50.
                            The history addict asked me,"Where did you fought?"
                            Me...Damn..."I'm not sure."

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                            • #15
                              Satellite Human Interception Technology?

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