Code-Name Bright Light : The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War

Code-Name Bright Light tells one of the great unknown stories of the Vietnam War: the American military’s extensive secret operations to locate and rescue POW/MIAs during the conflict. It is a tale of tragedy and heroism revealed in full for the first time in this volume. The history of the U.S. POW/MIA intelligence and wartime rescue operations has long remained concealed under the shroud of national security, unknown both to the public and to the families of the missing. George J. Veith has assembled an extensive range of previously unseen material, including recently declassified NSA intercepts, State Department cables, and wartime interrogation reports which reveal how the U.S. military conducted a centralized effort to identify, locate, and rescue its POW/MIAs. Code-Name Bright Light also traces the development of the various national wartime POW intelligence operations and provides an in-depth look at the activities of the Joint Personnel Recovery Center, a secretive and highly classified POW/MIA unit in South Vietnam responsible for rescuing captives. Further, it uncovers one of the most tightly held POW/MIA secrets, the primary reason why the government did not think any Americans were left behind: a clandestine communication program between the POWs and the U.S. military. This still-sensitive program provided the identities and locations of American prisoners, defeating North Vietnamese efforts to keep their names and locations a secret. The raids and efforts that make up the narrative of Code-Name Bright Light succeeded in freeing hundreds of captive South Vietnamese soldiers but resulted in the rescue of few Americans. The vast network of efforts, however, is a testament to the U.S. military’s unknown commitment to freeing its captive soldiers. Veith concludes that the United States secretly went as far as any army could go in freeing its captives in this type of wartime situation. Our understanding of the war remains incomplete without this powerful history.

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