Stars and Stripes looks back at the Vietnam War and the cultural changes that surrounded it. With contributions from the men and women who were there, we will examine how the war was prosecuted, how it changed our military and foreign policy thinking, and how America viewed itself then and now.
Lee Ellis remembers it all too well — the deprivation, the torture and the constant fight against depression as days turned into years. But just over a week before he went back to Vietnam for the first time since his release in 1973, he still wasn’t sure about how he felt about it.
Going inside the stone walls of the prison sarcastically dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” brings a respite from the honking traffic outside – until the iron shackles, dark cells and guillotine hammer home the suffering that went on there.
It’s been 45 years since Erma Hynson saw her brother, Gale Robert Siow, an aviation electronics technician with the U.S. Navy. But, in September, she was briefly reunited with him. At his gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
In 1969 Col. Robert Rheault landed a long-coveted assignment in Vietnam: commanding the Green Berets, the daring U.S. Special Forces group championed by President John F. Kennedy and glorified by John Wayne.
The captured fighter pilot had already been through so much at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. He had been beaten up and starved, thrown for months into a dark cell crawling with rats, held immobile with his legs pinned in stocks, and strapped with ropes so tightly that his right arm was torn from its socket.
For the men taken captive in 1963, years of torment lay ahead. At home, the nation would descend into increasing turmoil as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War deepened. Two of the soldiers snatched would return to the United States, but the body of the third, Capt. Humbert “Rocky” Versace, still lies in an unmarked grave somewhere in the Mekong River Delta.