DIBERNARDO, JAMES VINCENT RIP 11/20/2009
Name: James Vincent Dibernardo Rank/Branch: O2/United States Marine Corps Unit: Armed Forces TV Hue Date of Birth: 19 October 1968 Home City of Record: Fulton NY Date of Loss: 03 February 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 162700 North 1073500 North Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: none
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. Updated 2014.
REMARKS: 730305 RELEASED BY PRG
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 - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
JAMES V. DI BERNARDO Captain - United States Marine Corps Captured: February 3, 1968 Released: March 5, 1973
A 16 hour battle was raging as I the officer in charge of the Armed Forces Radio and TV station and my men tried to stave off the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Finally after an encounter with several Viet Cong others appeared and set fire to the house. I was shot in the arm by enemy small arms fire but shot my way out and ran to a rice paddy. About 50 North Vietnamese pursued me and with additional wounds from grenade shrapnel I soon became a guest of the North Vietnamese. I was slapped around a bit by one North Vietnamese and another took my glasses and smashed them on the ground. Later the soldiers poured hot iodine on my wounds bound my arms and fed me rice and some bones either cat or rat.
Then began the long 55 day trek through the jungles of South Vietnam. Carrying 40 pound sacks of rice on our backs through the rain and with torn feet the hardships of the trail were so much that we found that the Communists did not harass us unnecessarily. There was no way to escape on the march though as a guard was constantly in attendance, besides with no glasses I could not see ten feet.
Later my men and I were placed aboard trucks and transported for the 11 night journey over the Ho Chi Minh Trail to a jungle camp in a southern province of North Vietnam When we arrived two of us were put in solitary confinement with our feet in stocks.
I then met the interrogator for the first time. He spoke English extremely well, French fluently, and was well versed in American slang. He had the ability without using physical force to put the fear of God into one by just saying, "We won't kill you. We'll just make you wish you were dead." One of their favorite methods was to hold a gun to a prisoner's head. But they were not after military information in these sessions, they were after my mind. It began there in the jungle camp in the closet, my solitary confinement room, and it didn't end until I left the "Little Vegas" complex in the Hanoi Hilton on March 5 1973. During one interrogation, they mentioned the NFL to me; I thought they meant the National Football League. I was to learn quite a lot about those initials - the National Front of Liberation.
At one point an 18 year old Army trooper, who was paralyzed in his feet and legs, ate a tube of toothpaste. The North Vietnamese demanded an apology. I helped write that letter, saying that the man was sorry but that if he had more to eat he would be less likely to eat toothpaste. This infuriated them and they put the "culprit" on bread and water and refused to give him toothpaste for three months.
One of my most trying times was a three week stint, fourteen hours a day, on a seven inch square stool. They wanted me to make a statement about the anti-war demonstrators. I held out as long as I could. After three years of this type of interrogation they finally changed their "brainwashing technique."
How exciting it was to come home, and what excitement to learn that my wife had given birth to twins shortly after my capture. They were 4 « when I saw them for the first time and I had not even known that I had two new additions to the family. Sharen had been pregnant before I left for Vietnam in October 1967 and one of the first questions I asked my old friend and escort, Second Lieutenant Tom Kingry, was what she had, a boy or a girl? Handing me two cigars, he replied, "She had twins, two girls, Susan and Joy and they're doing fine."
God Bless you all!
James DiBernado retired from the United States Marine Corps as a Major. He and Shen reside in Claifornia.
----------------------- The Press-Enterprise Riverside, CA Thursday, February 3, 2000
A HERO LOOKS BACK: Temecula resident Jim Di Bernardo, a POW in Vietnam, has lost his idealistic view of the war.
Joe Vargo The Press-Enterprise
Jim Di Bernardo's shooting war came to an end 32 years ago today.....