4 Seests in Paradise
Our 4TH P.O.W./M.I.A.
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Date of Birth: 16 October 1940
Home City of Record: Perryville, AR
Date of Loss: 29 December 1964
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 103740N 1071950E (YS549755)
Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity
Other Personnel In Incident:
Charles Crafts (released 1967)
REMARKS: 6506 ON PRG DIC LIST
Source: Compiled by HOMECOMING II from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK May 1997
SYNOPSIS: Harold Bennett and Charles Crafts were MACV advisors to an ARVN unit operating in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam. A native of Maine, Crafts had been in country about 1 month.
On the afternoon of December 29, 1964, Bennett, Crafts and their ARVN unit made contact with Viet Cong guerrillas and the unit engaged in a firefight. During the firefight, both were taken prisoner.
By early 1965, Crafts and Bennett joined other prisoners held by the Viet Cong. Those who returned supplied information on the fates of those who did not. In late spring, 1965, Bennett began to refuse food. This was not an uncommon occurrence among prisoners suffering dysentery, malnutrition, malaise, injury and other ills that were common among prisoners of war in the South. Normally, the other prisoners worked hard to prevent further illness by forcing food on the POW who refused food, provided the sick man was not isolated. Returned POWs report the death of several men from the cycle of illness-refusal to eat- depression-starvation.
Bennett apparently did not die of starvaton, however. The Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF) announced on Radio Hanoi on June 24, 1965 that Bennett had been shot in retaliation for Viet Cong terrorist Tran Van Dong's execution by South Vietnam. He was the first POW to be executed in retaliation.
When the war ended in 1973, the Vietnamese listed Bennett as having died in captivity. They did not return his remains. He is one of nearly 2400 Americans still missing in Southeast Asia. Many, like Bennett did not survive. But experts now say, based on thousands of reports received, that hundreds are still alive. We, as Americans had no say in the death of Harold Bennett. We do, however, have the power to prevent the deaths of the hundreds still alive. If we do nothing, we will be guilty of their deaths. We must bring them home, while there is still time.
The book "Pacific Stars and Stripes, VIETNAM Front Pages" published in 1986 states:
Five Star Edition Vol. 19, No. 304 Friday, Nov. 1, 1963
3 Aides Seized in Vietnam Battle
Saigon (AP) Communist guerrilas smashed a Republic of Vietnam task force after disrupting its radio communication Tuesday, and probably captured all three U.S. Army advisers with the 120-man Saigon outfit.
The three Americans listed as missing and believed captured were two officers and an enlisted medic. Stragglers returning from the rout said both officers had been wounded early in the fight -- one in the head and one the other in the leg.
The Army identified the three as Capt. Hubert R. Versace, Baltimore; 1st Lt. James M. Rowe, McAllen Tx; and Sgt. Daniel L. Pitzer, Spring Lake, N.C.
A second government force of about 200 men operating only a few thousand yards from the main fight, learned of the disaster too late to help. U.S. authorities said the communist radio jammers had knowcked out both the main channel and the alternate channel on all local military radios.
Five Star Edition Vol 21, 177 Sunday, June 27, 1965
Viet Cong Execute U.S. Army Sergeant Saigon (UPI) -- The U.S. Embassy here said Friday that the Viet Cong had announce the execution of U.S. Army Sgt. Harold George Bennett in retaliation for the firing squad execution of condemned communist terrorist Tran Van Dang last Tuesday.
The execution of Bennett, 25, of Perryville, Ark., was reported by both Radio Hanoi and the official communist Vietnam news agncy (VNAY). Radio Hanoi identified the soldier only as "Bennett", but NVA gave his full name and serial number.
Bennett was listed as missing and presumed captured Dec. 29, 1964 in the bloody battle for Binh Gia, a Catholic refugee center 25 miles south of Saigon in Phuoc Tuy province.
A U.S. Embassy spokeman said if the reported communist execution of the American is confirmed then "it is obviously a wanton act of murder."
(In Washington, the State Deptartment also condemned as "a wanton act of murder" the reported Viet Cong reprisal killing of an American serviceman, AP said.)
(Press officer Robert J. McCloskey said that "this matter is one of very serious concern for us, quite obviously, because it concerns the lives of American citizens.")
Radio Hanoi announced the execution took place Thursday somewhere in the Republic of Vietnam.
It was the first time the communists have announced such an execution, through they have threatened to kill American captives in the past.
Bennett was one of two U.S. Army sergeants reported captured when the 176 man Vietnamese Ranger force they were accompanying was overrun by communist guerrillas. Both men were advisers to the unit, which was attempting to relieve the village during a week long battle.
The Rangers were airlifted into the battle but were caught in a
[the article ends there]
Five Star Edition Vol 21, No. 270 Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1965
Report 2 Advisers Executed Saigon (UPI) -- The viet Cong executed two captive servicemen Sunday morning, the clandestine Liberation Radio said late Sunday night.
The communist radio identified the two Americans as Capt. Albert Rusk Joseph and Sgt. Kenneth Morabeth (as received phonetically).
American authorities in Saigon were comparing the names with a list of missing American servicemen to determine if any such individuals were, indeed, communist captives. The reported executions came less than three days after the Vietnamese government's execution of three convicted Viet Cong terrorists in Da Nang.
In revenge for the last previous execution of a Viet Cong by the governemnt. the communists announced that they had executed Sgt. Harold Bennett, of Arkansas, on June 24.
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