ANDERSON, JOHN THOMAS Deceased April 1988
Name: John Thomas Anderson Rank/Branch: United States Army Unit: AFRTS HQ MACV Date of Birth: 08 December 1930 Home City of Record: Niagra Falls NY Date of Loss: 03 February 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam/NVN Loss Coordinates: 162932 North 1073438 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Missions: Other Personnel in Incident: unknown, at least 2 more Refno: 1030
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action Combat Casualty File. Updated 2008 with information provided by Michael Jones, SERE Specialist,
Army National Guard Texas
REMARKS: 730305 RELEASED BY PRG
Subject: John Thomas Anderson Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 09:38:30 +0900
Hello. I saw a reference to your web site in the November 2001 edition of the VFW magazine.
I read the brief information about Army Sergeant John T. Anderson and noted that there is not much bio available.
I knew Sergeant Anderson, but only after he retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant and began working as a civilian for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. He was the civilian station manager at the AFN Stuttgart affiliate from 1977 - 1982, after which he retired from federal service and returned to Buffalo, NY. He cthen worked for a local government agency there until his death in (I believe) April 1993. The Department of the Army has named the annual Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year (BJOY) the John T. Anderson Award, in honor of his distinguished military service.
He was the Station NCOIC at the AFVN radio affiliate at Hue when the station was overrun during the Tet offensive in 1968. He and several of his staff members were captured after holding off the enemy until they had nearly exhausted their ammunition. They were POWs until repatriated in 1973.
W.R. Cornelison Seoul, Republic of Korea
of war recounts horrors of North Vietnamese capture
by Renita Foster
Public Affairs Office [of
It was Jan. 31, 1968 when
Detachment Five, a television station crew for American Forces
Vietnam Network, immediately shut down operations and scrambled to their
For five days they fought until water, food, and ammunition ran out.
When the soldiers made a desperate attempt to reach the major compound
just a mile away, the non-commissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt.
John Anderson, was shot in the chest. The first thing he saw upon
regaining consciousness was a North Vietnamese soldier pointing a rifle
at his head.
"I had just 23 days left Ďin countryí,"
A forced 10 to 12 mile a day road march came next, ending six weeks
later in the city of
"I had to walk because if I didnít they were going to shoot
From the beginning, escape had been his foremost thought. But
"I broke all three of the three rules Iíd been taught."
The first time he tried to escape he made it about a mile, then
passed out because of his wounds. The second time he managed to get
farther, but walked right into the middle of an enemy military camp. The
last time he was nearly beaten to death with bamboo clubs by women in a
North Vietnamese village.
Despite the overwhelming odds, however, there was no giving up.
"The guard bought it and went back to lock the other
" If you let that go, then you begin falling apart. There was
one young man who did give up; literally. He laid down one day, turned
his face to the wall, and died. He physically gave up the will to live.
When you get to the point where you refuse to resist any longer, then
you become an animal. Youíre just not a human being anymore."
A few days a week he was afforded the opportunity to take a bath from
a well. "Youíd dip a bucket in, splash the water over you, soap
up, throw the water back over yourself and rinse,"
For the majority of the next five years he was required to sit at
attention at the end of his bed board, forbidden to see or talk to
Punishments for infractions such as getting caught attempting to
communicate with other prisoners were swift and fierce. Meals were cut
down to one a day, no outside exercise was allowed. The only daylight or
fresh air came from a small hole in the roomís ceiling.
Severe punishment included being locked in irons to a bed or kneeling
down and keeping your thighs straight with hands up over the head. A
prisoner had to stay that way until it started hurting which took about
30 minutes. "They obviously know you canít keep your arms up that
long so they tie them over your head for eight to 12 hours. The pain was
so great that guys would eventually pass out,"
Endless interrogations began three months after
"My other line,"
But then came the kind of interrogation
"This causes you to lose track of time. And then they start
saying Ďwell yesterday you told meí, and you begin forgetting what
youíve told them, and donít really know any more what youíve said,
"Theyíll even put a man in the room next to yours who speaks
excellent English. You overhear him saying your name, the town you were
captured in, your unit. And you find yourself really wondering because
thereís only two or three people who could know those details" he
One warning Anderson insists on passing down to soldiers who may one
day find themselves in the same situation is; get whatever story
youíre going to tell straight in your mind and always tell it the same
It was a painful lesson
"I was absolutely speechless,"
Saving little pieces of bread,
After five long years he became a free man on March 5, 1973. Because
he had been told so often that he was never going home, it was not until
he was airborne that
And while he agrees that most
"When I arrived in
And he still has a framed menu from a White House dinner honoring
As for soldiers who become prisoners in the future,