Should one care to take the time and ignore "pie in the sky" stereotypes of POWs, bounce off what Frank Anton says in his book against what he and others say in "Voices of the Vietnam POWs." (Craig Howes, Oxford University Press).

One should understand also, there was a natural distrust between different POWs based on time in prison. Were they reporting what they said? Were they not gung ho enough or were they too gung ho? But the overwhelming differences had to do with food. Was one getting more food than the others? If someone tried to escape, would the other's meager rations be cut? These slights, crimes, etc., real or imagined, impacted on how people were portrayed after the return of the POWs.

What should bother everyone is the amount of credence given by returned POWs to what the enemy told them about each other. Much that is said about Robert Garwood is prefaced with; "The Cadre said he etc. - etc. - etc." Hardly a reliable source.

One thing the Anton book surely shows is that there was hardly "a one for all and all for one" attitude". Russ Grissett died because of this failure and it was not Garwood's fault. His "crime" of striking Harker, who was hardly an example of POW heroism, was a result of Harker and the others refusing to stand as one against the enemy. Grissett was beaten and died, not because of Garwood, but because no one else stepped forward to stand beside him! They were not about to beat to death all the POWs. THEY WERE TOO VALUABLE TO THEM!!!!! Anyone who didn't understand that, regardless of threats made by the enemy, was STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!

Copyright 1998, by Mark A. Smith, Major, USA, Retired

BACK into the Corner