Great woman or a Traitor?

Below is a letter that was sent to me.  From a Vietnam Vet.
I don't know where he got it and I don't have permission
to make a web page from it.  If you know anything about this letter
would you please write me.


I am of two minds about writing this.  In the first place, it dredges up a lot of memories I try not to visit very often.  In the second place, nothing was ever done about it, and nothing ever will be.  This being the reality you could certainly make the case that talking about it is an exercise in futility and it would be better just to forget the whole thing.  I wouldn't argue with that, but sometimes you just can't make yourself forget.

This all got dredged up again when Barbara Walters announced that one of the women she would be honoring in her century-end feature, "100 Years of Great Women." would be Jane Fonda.  If you are wondering why this should upset anyone, you obviously don't know anything about the Vietnam War.  Jane was and is easily the most detested person in the US if not the world by the vast majority of Vietnam veterans.


Jane, as you may or may not know, was just about the highest profile anti-Vietnam-War activist we had around during the 1960s-70s.  She made several trips to North Vietnam during the war where she posed for anti-US propaganda pictures, accused the US of perpetrating war crimes, urged US military men to desert and go over to the enemy side, wore the uniform of the North Vietnamese, etc., etc.  Although this was deeply resented by the troops, it would probably have been forgotten in time.  There were other events, however, which are more difficult to forget.  These had to do with our POWs whom she referred to as "War Criminals."  I will touch on a couple of these.

A group of US POWs at Hanoi's Ho Lo Prison-known as the "Hanoi Hilton," were informed that they would be allowed to meet with Jane on one of her visits.  They were cleaned up, enjoyed much better food than their usual fare for a few weeks before the event, and outfitted with new prison uniforms so they could look the part when they described their "lenient and humane treatment" to Jane and the other members of the visiting "Peace Delegation."   They devised a plan to tell the world they had survived (Many were simply listed as Missing In Action and had never been reported as captured).  Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper containing his Social Security Number in the palm of his hand.  As Jane walked down the line shaking each man's hand, they slipped her their paper.  She took them all without missing a beat.  At the end of the line, and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs she turned to the officer in charge and calmly handed over the little pile of papers.  Three men died from the subsequent beatings.

For years after their release, a group of former POWs including some of the men involved in the above incident tried to bring Jane up on charges of treason.  They were unsuccessful, and to date Jane has never been formally charged with anything.

Not widely known is the fact that there were a few non-military US prisoners of war held by the North Vietnamese.  One of these was a gentleman named Michael D. Benge, currently residing in Falls Church, Virginia.  Let me quote a little of what he has to say about Ms. Fonda.

"I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and was held for 5 years.  I spent 27 months in solitary confinement, one year in a cage in Cambodia, and one year in a 'black box' in Hanoi…"

"My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium…whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border."  (I read the account of this.  It is a heart-breaker.  Les)

"We were Jane Fonda's 'war criminals.'  When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet Jane Fonda.  I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese and parroted by Jane Fonda as being 'humane and lenient.'  Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of rebar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped."

"Jane Fonda…chose to be a traitor, and went to Hanoi, wore their uniform, propagandized for the communists and urged American soldiers to desert.  As we were being tortured, and some of the POWs murdered, she called us liars.  After her heroes- the North Vietnamese communists- took over  South Vietnam, they systematically murdered 80,000 South Vietnamese political prisoners.  May their souls rest on her head forever.
Shame, shame!"

So, if you didn't know before, you now know some of the reasons why selecting Ms. Fonda as one of the centruy's outstanding women just might be upsetting to a fairly large group of US citizens.
I'm not at all certain that you're a whole lot better off knowing this, but it did happen, and you certainly have a right to know.  I daresay that the next time you see Ms. Fonda-Turner at an Atlanta Braves' game you won't look at her quite the same way as you might have in the past.


Let us Honor the Heroes, not the  traitor.


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