RIP 03/15/2001
Name: John Joseph Fritz, Jr.
Rank/Branch: U.S. Civilian
Date of Birth: circa 1936
Home City of Record: Williamstown NJ
Date of Loss: 08 February 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 104936N 1065628E (YS126965)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Auto/Volkswagon
Refno: 1375
Source: Compiled 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 in 2000.
Other Personnel In Incident: James A. Newingham (released); Tanos E. Kalil
SYNOPSIS: Tanos E. Kalil, John J. Fritz and James A. Newingham were three
U.S. civilians captured by Viet Cong forces on February 8, 1969 in Bien Hoa
Province, South Vietnam. The three were held together as captives.
In 1973 Operation Homecoming occurred and 591 Americans were released by the
Vietnamese. Two of those lucky Americans were John Fritz and James
Newingham. John Fritz told of having been tortured and repeatedly thrown in
a pit with snakes and scorpions. Being held in South Vietnam and Cambodia
had its own horrors. Fritz and Newingham were lucky to be alive.
The two also told of Tanos Kalil's fate. In April 1969, they reported, Kalil
fell ill with kidney problems. Because of poor medical attention and even
poorer diet, the illness grew more serious and he ultimately died in June
1969 and was buried near camp.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) listed Tanos Kalil as a
prisoner who had died while in captivity. They did not return his remains to
U.S. control. For over 20 years, the U.S. has been unable to bargain for
even those Americans known to have been held captive and now are deceased.
Many consider this an outrage.
Even more outrageous, certainly, is the mounting evidence that hundreds of
Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. While Vietnam and the U.S. hold
talks which focus on the only remaining barrier to normalized relations
being Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, families of the nearly 2500 missing
men stand by in helpless horror.
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).
Captured: February 8, 1969
Released: February 12,1974
I was a civilian POW from Philadelphia, now residing in Turnersville, New
Jersey. I previously had been a serviceman for eight years in the Marines and
SeaBees. My job as a civilian was repairing helicopters. While on my way to
work early in the morning we were captured. My mother was notified that I was
missing as of February 8, 1969. Two years later she was notified that I was
presumed dead. She was issued a presumptuous death certificate which she
refused to believe.
It was just great coming back, especially after all the heartache my family
went through. My Mom and many of my close friends never gave up their faith
and prayed for my safe return. It is just like getting a new lease on life.
While being a prisoner, the Viet Cong really hated the civilian. We were
considered War Criminals as we were there by choice. As a prisoner I was given
NO medication until just before release. I had malaria, kidney infection and
gangrene in both my feet - plus, I had beri-beri-, typhoid and dysentery.
Since my return I have had a gall bladder operation and am under the doctor's
care for parasite, arthritis of the spine and a pinched nerve. All these
problems are due to the living conditions in the jungle and the poor diet.
If it hadn't been for my good friend and buddy, "Rowdy" Newingham, neither of
us would have made it. We always tried to take care of each other.
I personally feel bitter toward the men who gave out information to the enemy
without pressure, for their own gain. To me, my country and self respect and
having a clear conscience meant more. I also feel very sorry for those who
lost loved ones and have MlAs. I feel that something should be done if
possible to have some accounting for all those unfortunate people.
I believe my faith in God, my country and the determination to live is what
kept me going. As for my future, I plan to marry my childhood sweetheart, the
one I thought so much of during my years as a prisoner. We plan on having a
family and just settle down and enjoy and accept each day as it comes. All I
can say is that I am a very lucky man-and I am so thankful to God to be back.
(As of June 28, 1974 Joan and I are now happily married, and I have three
beautiful step-children-Joanie, Jimmy and Scottie.)
John Fritz resided in Delaware until his death in 2001.