BENNETT, HAROLD GEORGE
Name: Harold George Bennett Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: Date of Birth: 16 October 1940 (Thornburg AR) 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 Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground 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 April 2006
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.....
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)......
AP Alert - Arkansas April 21, 2006
41 years later, first POW killed by Viet Cong is honored in Ark. By ANNIE BERGMAN
PERRYVILLE, Ark._In an act described by the State Department as a "wanton act of murder," the Viet Cong executed Harold George Bennett 41 years ago after Bennett injured a North Vietnamese soldier while trying to escape for a third time from a prison camp.....