This Man Who Lives in Vietnam is a Missing War Prisoner

The Vietnam War is one of the most controversial wars in the history of the United States. Not all soldiers returned home, and apart from those that died on the battlefield, many actually became prisoners of war or the so-called POWs. If you were captured by the Vietcong, your chances of survival were at a minimum. You were starved and tortured to reveal any information you had. If they particularly disliked the prisoner, they would execute them. Make no mistake, those were statistically the rare cases. By the end of the war, back in 1975, most of the POWs were actually released and were given the chance to return home. Many never made it back and went missing. Those who went missing were simply presumed killed in action (KIA), and that was the end of the story. One of those soldiers was Special Forces Green Beret Master Sgt. John Hartley Robertson. It was presumed that he died in action, or was killed in captivity, but he actually started a new life in the jungle after he was released. It was not until 2008 that he was finally found and that his story finally surfaced. However, nothing is as it seems, and the same can be said for his story.

A Rumor

In 2008, a rumor went around that one of the American soldiers from the Vietnam war was still alive and kicking in Laos. Tom Faunce was a soldier who had served two tours in Vietnam and after the war, he went on a humanitarian mission to Cambodia, and it was there that he overheard this rumor.

The lost American soldier apparently survived a helicopter crash during the war and managed to somehow stay alive after that, as well. Faunce was curious to find out if the soldier was Special Forces Green Beret Master Sgt. John Hartley Robertson.

Prison Escape

Faunce found out that the mystery soldier was the Green Beret named John Hartley Robertson. Robertson was in-fact in the helicopter when it crashed, but he somehow managed to survive. He was, however, injured and got sent to the North Vietnamese Army prison.

Robertson was, however, not released from the prison. He escaped and his escape path led him to South Vietnam, and it was there that he started going by the name of Dang Tan Ngoc.

Home Visit

Faunce went to meet Robertson in person, in order to hear his story of escape and survival. The man that he met was very thin, and about six feet tall. At the time he was already sporting gray hair. Robertson welcomed Faunce to his home without any issue.

He knew why Faunce was there, and he had no issue in telling him the story. However, it was his wife, who he met while in the North Vietnamese Army prison, that needed much convincing. She was a nurse and Robertson’s caretaker in the prison. When Faunce stepped inside, she immediately started yelling facts about Robertson, her husband: “He’s not American. He’s Vietnamese!” Robertson, of course, calmed down his wife and took her aside, and after a brief conversation, they both returned. Robertson, of course, offered an explanation for his wife’s behavior.

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