DEERING, JOHN A. RIP
Name: John A, Deering Rank/Branch: E4/United States Marine Corps Unit: AFVN Det 5 MAC V Date of Birth: 06 February 1943 Home City of Record: Nashville TN Date of Loss: 05 February 1968 Country of Loss: SVN/NVN Loss Coordinates: 162700N 1073500 Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident:
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, personal interviews.
REMARKS: 730305 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 03/97 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO with material provided by John Deering.
JOHN A. DEERING Staff Sergeant- United States Marine Corps Captured: Feb. 5, 1968 Released: March 5, 1973
I was born Feb. 6, 1943 in Nashville, Tenn. At the University of Tenn. I majored in radio-television management. After leaving school I was employed by WMOC, Chattanoga, TN as operations manager. On March 29, 1966 I entered the Marine Corps in the field of radio-TV, spending 16 months at Camp Lejeune. I went to Vietnam Dec. 18, 1967 to be attached to the American Forces Radio-TV Network with headquarters in Saigon. After spending about a month there, I was transferred to Hue, Vietnam to assume duties as program director of the TV station.
On the night of Feb. 4, 1968 our unit was attacked and after heavy fighting our detachment was completely surrounded and then overtaken about mid-morning. During these battles three of our men were killed while the remaining five were captured. During the firefight, I received schrapnel wounds in my foot and hand.
Unfortunately, I spent my 25th birthday in captivity. My first six months were spent in jungle camps, then I was held in Camp D-1, the Plantation, and Hilton Little Vegas. I was held in solitary confinement for two years, and subjected to alot of kneeling, rope torture and beatings.
Five long hard years later we were on our way home thus making an end to an experience none of us would care to repeat, yet hopefully made us better men. It's hard to maintain one's composure while going through so much, especially the right to communicate with our families. That's correct, our loved ones heard nothing from some of us for the entire tenure of our detainment; it was equally difficult for them not knowing for sure whether or not we were alive or status of our physical condition. By now the question arises as to how I personally survived this rather unfortunate situation.
First of all I realized while spending many months in solitary confinement that I could not at any time feel sorry for myself. I had to make the best of a bad situation. This was achieved by means of a simple mental project - that being the construction, equipping, staffing, and managing of a radio station - a project that soon became an obsession.
Becoming so involved with this idea, I began losing sleep and became angry when anyone or anything disturbed my train of thought. Two years in solitary passed rather quickly this way even though there were some very depressing and frustrating moments. My faith in God played an important role here. I never prayed for a miracle, just a little hint as to how I could overcome my difficulties. My prayers were answered and believe me the Lord worked wonders in odd ways.
When allowed to live with the other prisoners my little project was stowed away in the back of my mind but not forgotten-it will never be. After I retire from the Marine Corps, my plans, hopefully, will be realized. I have already discussed this possibility with a very close friend of mine and the prospects for a venture look promising for the near future.
Before I left for Vietnam I, like many perhaps too many Americans, took very much for granted; I have learned otherwise. We don't really appreciate what we have because I feel we have too much. Odd as it may sound, I would like to see some of our citizens witness what I have, for it might wake them up or better yet, shake them up. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish POW life for anyone, but I do feel we should know how the other side lives. Remember the words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but, rather what you can do for your country." Believe me that message was driven home to us many times.
I honestly think we can do more for this great nation by becoming a bit less selfish and a whole lot less involved with matters that are not so seemingly necessary.
Defeating Communism or any other "ism" that goes contrary to our well being and security is accomplished at home, as well as on the battlefield and I definitely lay emphasis at home first, for this just may be the battlefield later. To conquer an enemy one must know about it.
Most Americans have strong feelings against Communism, but do we really know what we are hating? I have, like all of the POW's had the golden opportunity to witness that system, unfortunately under adverse conditions. But for the better part of us, we have taken advantage of a rather disheartening situation and for this - with this - we are perhaps the most fortunate people on earth today. We are rich not in dollars, but more significantly in knowledge and experience as well. True we have lived, experienced, or seen Communism as a prisoner of war, but I do not judge the system from that aspect or am I bitter about it. I've seen the outside from within and it's not an enjoyable view either. I base my opinion not as a POW, but from viewing the average individual with whom I've directly or indirectly come into contact and it is depressing to know there are those who live so terribly. It's even that much more discouraging to be aware of the fact the poverty that exists in this the richest nation in the world. Let's do something about it, not with words, but with action; not so much with dollars, but rather with encouragement. Let us help one so desperately in need to help himself. Money sometimes is not the answer; it can't buy health, freedom, true happiness, love or even respect, but personal help can and will be reached.
Perhaps this book will not only help those who will never be forgotten, but will reach those who simply don't know, or were too involved with trivial matters to realize what we now know - to be grateful for what we have, for we have so much - we have our freedom - all of us Americans!
=========== John Deering left the military as a Gunny Sergeant in late 1973. He was awarded the Silver star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart as well as other decorations. He is currently self-employed building custom cars, and resides in Tennessee. He has two children, John Jr. and Angela.