Academic journal article Military Review

Why Didn't You Get Me out? the Story of One of the Few Survivors of the Viet Cong Death Camps

Academic journal article Military Review

Why Didn't You Get Me out? the Story of One of the Few Survivors of the Viet Cong Death Camps

Article excerpt

WHY DIDN'T YOU GET ME OUT? The Story of One of the Few Survivors of the Viet Cong Death Camps by Frank Anton with Tommy Denton. 196 pages. The Summit Publishing Group, Arlington, TX. 1997. $22.99.

This slim volume purports to inform us of "Betrayal in the Viet Cong Death Camps-The Truth about Heroes, Traitors, and Those Left Behind." Retired Chief Warrant Officer Frank Anton does address those topics, as he tells of his capture and imprisonment in South Vietnam, his subsequent removal to North Vietnam and his experience after repatriation. However, I am not sure I would have liked the soldier Anton was before his capture.

Anton tells of disobeying orders and engaging in unauthorized killing under the stress of war, which may be understandable but was, and is, not justifiable. The narrative alternates between whining and understated heroics. Which is Anton? Which is Denton? I wonder? The book portrays an anxious young man trying to live up to the demands of a trade in which facing death is commonplace.

Despite his tendency to gripe, Anton's story grabs your attention. There is something reminiscent of the Korean prisoner experience on a smaller, but no less horrific, scale. The Vietnamese used many techniques also practiced by the North Koreans and Chinese. The suppression of the US chain of command, political indoctrination and the pressure to collaborate are all familiar, but the setting is far more primitive. These are guerrilla prison camps woefully short of facilities, potable water, food, sanitation, medical treatment and shelter. …

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