P.O.W.’s Felt Their Mission Was to Resist (Lurie, Webb, Clower, Hitshew, Alvarez, Rehmann, Thorsness)

The New York Times has reviewed the public comments of nearly 100 returned men and interviewed several dozen in depth. The “battle of Hanoi” as one prisoner called it, emerges as a complex and fascinating story of men under extreme stress.

The tales of torture seem genuine, but physical brutality played a rather small part in the lives of many inmates, particularly those shot down more recently. And it is still uncertain how the prisoners’ fierce commitment to resist a despised enemy has colored their accounts of prison life.

The story is complex in other ways. Men captured in the North were often incarcerated in old French prisons and sometimes spent years in the same cell. Prisoners taken in South Vietnam lived mainly in jungle camps and moved constantly with the tides of war.

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