Name: Harold George Bennett
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
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)


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 2020

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-

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

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 knocked 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.

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.....


SSG Harold G. Bennett (1st POW executed by the Viet Cong in 1965. He
may end up being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Can any of you 
SF fill me in on his Special Forces time?):



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On December 29, 1964, two U.S. service members were serving as advisors to a group of South Vietnamese troops inserted on a mission near Binh Gia Village in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam. The unit moved to the vicinity of grid coordinates YS 549 755 where they made contact with enemy forces. During the ensuing firefight, the unit broke up, and the two U.S. soldiers were captured. One was eventually released back to U.S. custody, but the other died in captivity and his remains were not recovered. 

Sergeant Harold George Bennett entered the U.S. Army from Arkansas and served in Detachment 5891, Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. He was the U.S. advisor on this mission who died while in enemy custody. The advisor who survived the incident and after his release in 1967, reported that SGT Bennett died during a prisoner of war (POW) camp move in May 1965, when he became weak and fell behind and was executed. The circumstances surrounding any burial of his remains at the time are unknown, and attempts to locate his remains following the war have been unsuccessful. Following his loss, the Army promoted SGT Bennett to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG). Today, Staff Sergeant Bennett is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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