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Open letter to Vietnamese-Americans, Vietnam and other Veterans
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Many people including Vietnamese-Americans, Vietnam and other Veterans and others, especially the younger generation, know very little about the Vietnam War. Even the Vietnam Veterans by and large knew little more than a microcosm of what was going on other than their little part of "Hell." Almost everyone has seen the picture of the South Vietnamese General summarily executing a Viet Cong, but few were told that this VC was part of a special assassination unit that had just finished cutting off the legs of the dependents, wives and children, in the police barracks just down the street, who smeared on the wall in blood: "this is what happens to American imperialist collaborators." All too many know little more than what they may have seen mis-portrayed in movies such as "Apocalypse Now" or editorialized in TV portrayals or books, even school text books, that are often more fiction than fact. Few know the real Senator John Kerry who is aspiring to be President.

During the Easter Campaign in 1972, after American combat troops had pulled out of Vietnam, the Army of South Vietnam fought gallantly against the North Vietnamese communist army, defeating them in battle, and driving them in defeat back to North Vietnam and their sanctuaries in Laos. However, because of John Kerry's appalling testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971 in which he falsely charged that all U.S. troops in Vietnam were war criminals, Senator Ted Kennedy was able to persuade the Senate to cut off all future funding for Vietnam. Therefore, there was no money to purchase ammunition, bombs or parts to repair any equipment necessary to continue the war and ward off the North Vietnamese army, leading to the fall of Vietnam to the communists in 1975.

Kerry was spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), and based his testimony largely on fabrications by VVAW members who had either not been in the military, or if they had been had not been in Vietnam, or if they had been in Vietnam had never been in combat. John Kerry also stated that the Vietnamese people didn't care if they lived under democracy or communism, and implied they would probably be better off under communism. He went on to say that if the communists took over Vietnam, at most only a few hundred South Vietnamese would be killed.

The North Vietnamese communist government (NVG) signed the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners of War in 1957, yet it grossly violated all provisions of the Convention by starving, torturing and murdering not only American military POWs, but civilians as well. The communists also committed the same atrocities against thousands of South Vietnamese POWs, as well as any third-country allies who happened to fall in their clutches. [I know this from first hand experience having been a civilian POW of Hanoi for 5 years, including spending time in "tiger cages" and in their less than luxurious prisons in Hanoi including Hoa Lo prison [the Hole of Fire, aka the Hanoi Hilton.]

When the communist North Vietnamese retreated after being defeated in the battle for Hue that ended Feb. 24, 1968, they took with them over 3,500 South Vietnamese POWs, soldiers, civil servants as well as their wives and children, including three German Doctors working at the University of Hue. All were systematically murdered and buried -- 20 to 40 bodies to a grave. The bodies showed clear evidence of atrocity killings: groups of bodies tied together, each with hands wired or tied with bamboo strips behind backs, rags stuffed in mouths or plastic bags tied over their heads, with many of the bodies contorted but without wounds (indicating being buried alive).

Right after my capture during the TET Offensive in 1968, North Vietnamese officers, in order to impress on me their seriousness, staged a "kangaroo court," a mock trial, in a leper colony, where they had 15 Montagnard ethnic minority teenagers, with their hands wired behind them, kneeling on a bamboo platform, accusing them of being counter-revolutionaries. Communist cadres were dispersed among the lepers and when asked by the officer staging the trial what should be done with them, the cadre began shouting, "Kill them! Kill them!" The lepers, afraid for their lives, were urged by the cadres to join in the condemnation, a freak-out show that would make Francis Ford Coppula proud -- then a NVA officer walked up behind them, executing a coup de grace, shooting each teenager in the back of the head.

Probably fewer than 100 people remember, and less than a dozen saw the pictures of, what happened when the North Vietnamese soldiers overran a Stieng ethnic minority village in Tay Ninh Province in 1967 and systematically fried the men, women, children and babes in arms with flame throwers -- turning the entire village into charred corpses.

Apparently the North Vietnamese atrocities made no impact on the mind or conscience of Senator John Kerry, for he made no agonized outcry. He never led demonstrations at North Vietnamese embassies or consulates. No, instead, John Kerry led demonstrations in Washington, DC, marching under the Viet Cong flag, and regurgitated falsehoods before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and betrayed his "band of brothers" calling them "war criminals." And John Kerry dishonored those dead Americans whose names are on that cold black granite wall in Washington, DC -- The Vietnam Memorial -- who died fighting for freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

John Kerry testified that American Servicemen in Vietnam committed atrocities reminiscent of Genghis Khan, and that the acts were "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." Who Kerry was describing was the Vietnamese communists, not American soldiers. On April 18, 1971, Kerry appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" stating "Yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities..." Whether this was a mea culpa by Kerry, only he knows.

Instead of punishment for war crimes, through the intense advocacy efforts of presidential hopeful John Kerry, the communist killers and torturers were rewarded with favorable diplomatic and trade relations that have allowed them to line their pockets with gold and fatten their offshore bank accounts from ill-gotten gains. As a Senator, John Kerry has fought harder for the Vietnamese communists since his return than he ever did against them during his short four months in Vietnam as a Swift Boat commander. In 2001, Kerry single-handedly prevented the Vietnam Human Rights Act from going to the floor of the Senate for a democratic up or down vote after it passed the House 410-1.

John Kerry gave aid and comfort to the enemy, and his actions after coming back from Vietnam prolonged the war instead of shortening it, causing the unnecessary deaths of over 2 million Vietnamese, 3 million Cambodians, and hundreds of thousands of Laotians.

General Vo Nguyen Giap, the North Vietnamese general, the architect of the military campaign that finally defeated South Vietnam in 1975, is cited as crediting Presidential aspirant John Kerry and his VVAW with helping them achieve victory. In Giap's 1985 memoir about the war, he wrote that if it weren't for organizations like Kerry's Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Hanoi would have surrendered to the U.S. Giap was quoted as saying, "What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But, we were elated to notice the media were definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. Yes, we were ready to surrender. You had won!"

John Kerry's picture hangs in the Vietnamese communists' War Remnants Museum (formerly called the War Crimes Museum) in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City), in which he is immortalized in tribute to aiding the communists in winning the war.

America went to war in Vietnam for the right reasons, fighting for freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese people and history has proven this fact. However, because of the likes of John Kerry, the United States abandoned the Vietnamese people to the brutal fascist Vietnamese communists. In his campaign, John Forbes Kerry heralds his military record as a badge of honor in his campaign; only after coming home, he desecrated it. That's not what a hero does. John Forbes Kerry does not deserve the respect of Veterans, nor their vote, or the vote of Vietnamese Americans who value honor over deceit. Don't let the United States once again betray the Vietnamese people by electing John Kerry as President.

Mike Benge, former Vietnam POW, 1968-1973

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Michael Benge spent 11 years in Vietnam, including more than five years as a Prisoner of War from 1968 to 1973. While serving as a civilian Foreign Service Officer, he was captured in South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese and held in numerous camps in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam. He spent 27 months in solitary confinement and one year in a "black box." For his efforts in rescuing several Americans prior to capture, he received the State Department's highest award for heroism and a second award for valor.

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