Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deaths Elsewhere

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deaths Elsewhere

Article excerpt

Nellie Hertz, husband was a civilian captive

Nellie Hertz, whose husband, a U.S. government employee, was kidnapped by communist guerrillas in Saigon, Vietnam, during the Vietnam War and perished after more than two years in captivity, an ordeal that drew national attention and enduring sorrow, died Oct. 3 in Leesburg, Va. She was 95.

The cause was cancer and complications of strokes, said a granddaughter, Elizabeth Puglise.

Ms. Hertz wrote two dozen books on spirituality and conservative Catholic theology, many self-published. She also wrote articles for Catholic magazines and published a newsletter called Big Rock Papers, often focused on her dissent from the Vatican II overhauls of the mid-1960s.

But Ms. Hertz was for a time far better known for the tragedy in Vietnam that enveloped her life. Her husband's disappearance swept her into news headlines just as the war was heating up.

Ms. Hertz, then 45, was living in Saigon with her husband, Gustav Hertz. He was chief public administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Vietnam.

On the afternoon of Feb. 2, 1965, he disappeared.

Ten days later, Ms. Hertz received a letter from her husband saying he would be home within a week. It was the last time she ever heard from him.

It was learned later that he had been taken prisoner by the Viet Cong.

In June 1967, the Viet Cong Liberation Radio said he had been executed. Not long afterward, Ms. Hertz was informed through intermediaries that her husband had actually died of malaria in a North Vietnamese prison.

Eventually a DNA match was found. In 2001, 34 years after he died, Mr. Hertz was buried in Leesburg.

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