KERNS, ARTHUR WILLIAM
Name: Arthur William Kerns
Rank/Branch: E2/US Army
Date of Birth: 20 November 1946 (Glendale CA)
Home City of Record: El Paso TX
Date of Loss: 21 January 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: XS820960
Status (in 1973): AWOL
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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: In Vietnam, military experts devised a system to try to relieve
the battle fatigue experienced in earlier wars by those who served long
tours with their units intact. In Vietnam, soldiers were rotated after
roughly one-year tours. The practice had noble intent, but it served to
isolate the soldier and interrupted continuity. Virtually as soon as a man
learned the ropes, he was shipped home and a green replacement arrived to
fill the gap. Some were quite literally, in the jungles one day and at
home the next. The emotional impact was terrific and thousands of veterans
are dealing with it two decades later.
Vietnam was also a limited political war, and had peculiar problems: a
vague enemy, restrictive rules of engagement, an uncertain objective,
non-military State Department minds directing many aspects of the war. In
certain periods of the war, military morale was lower than perhaps any
other time in our history.
Adding to these factors was the extremely young age of the average soldier
shipped to Vietnam. For example, the average combatant's age in World War
II was 25 years, while Vietnam soldiers were 19. The young fighters became
jaded -- or old -- or died -- long before their time.
For various reasons, some soldiers deserted or even defected to the enemy.
Their counterparts in the U.S. fled to Canada, manufactured physical or
mental problems, or extended college careers to escape the draft.
There are only a handful of American deserters or AWOL (Absent Without
Leave) maintained on missing lists. At least one of these was known to
have fallen in love with a woman whom he later learned was a communist.
Another fled because he had scrapped with a superior and feared the
consequences. This man was ultimately declared dead, and his AWOL record
There is little information regarding those listed as AWOL on the missing
lists. PVT Arthur W. Kerns was listed by the Defense Intelligence Agency as
missing as of 21 January 1967. Kerns disappeared somewhere in the vicinity
of Saigon, and Defense Intelligence Agency classified him AWOL. The Army
declared him dead as of 23 December 1966. It is not known when he actually
disappeared, but apparently it was prior to January 21, 1967. By 1984,
Kerns' name reappeared on the honorable lists of the missing. Evidently, the
DIA and Army decided he was no longer AWOL. Details are not available.
Some of the reports among the over 10,000 received relating to Americans
missing or prisoner in Southeast Asia have to do with deserters, although
there is no evidence they have been asked if they want to come home. In
light of the amnesty granted draft dodgers by the United States
Government, can we be less forgiving of them?
Arthur Kerns IS NOT listed on the 1995 Department of the Army list of
deserters from the Vietnam War. There is still a date discrepancy between the
Army PFOD date of 23 Dec 66 and the DIA MIA date of 21 Jan 67.