PARKS, JOE Name: Joe Parks Rank/Branch: E7/US Army Unit: Headquarters, MACV Date of Birth: 13 June 1927 (Bay City TX) Home City of Record: Cedar Lane TX (or Matagordia TX) Date of Loss: 22 December 1964 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 095256N 1060120E (XR122931) Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 0048 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 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 1998. REMARKS: 661231 DIC - BNR - ON PRG LIST SYNOPSIS: SFC Joe Parks was assigned to Headquarters, MACV and served as an advisor to an ARVN unit that operated in Vinh Binh Province, South Vietnam. On December 22, 1964, Parks and the ARVN unit were ambushed about 20 miles north of the city of Khanh Hung. After the ambush, the unit regrouped and it was determined that Parks was missing. Several members of the unit stated that they had seen Parks being taken prisoner by the Viet Cong. For Joe Parks and other Americans captured in South Vietnam, daily life could be expected to be brutally difficult. Primarily, these men suffered from disease induced by an unfamiliar and inadequate diet - dysentery, edema, skin fungus and eczema. The inadequate diet coupled with inadequate medical care led to the deaths of many. Besides dietary problems, these POWs had other problems as well. They were moved regularly to avoid being in areas that would be detected by U.S. troops, and occasionally found themselves in the midst of U.S. bombing strikes. Supply lines to the camps were frequently cut off, and when they were, POWs and guards alike suffered. Unless they were able to remain in one location long enough to grow vegetable crops and tend small animals, their diet was limited to rice and what they could gather from the jungle. In addition to the primitive lifestyle imposed on these men, their Viet Cong guards could be particularly brutal in their treatment. For any minor infraction, including conversation with other POWs, the Americans were psychologically and physically tortured. American POWs brought back stories of having been buried to the neck; held for days in a cage with no protection from insects and the environment; having had water and food withheld; being shackled and beaten. The effects of starvation and torture frequently resulted in hallucinations and extreme disorientation. This was Joe Parks' life for the next two years as a prisoner of the Viet Cong. A number of returning POWs spoke of being held with Joe Parks. James N. "Nick" Rowe wrote in his book, "Five Years to Freedom" that he had been held with Parks and that Parks had become very sick and, Rowe believed he may have died. Rowe said Parks was in very bad shape. Dan Pitzer, another returned POW, reported that Parks died of starvation. In 1985, a private citizen obtained a lengthy document through a Freedom of Information request that described a temporary holding facility near the city of Hue, South Vietnam where 43 Americans and 326 Vietnamese prisoners had been held on their way north to Hanoi. The source of the document, a Vietnamese rallier, identified the Americans he had seen from photos maintained by the U.S. Government. One group, he identified positively, the other, tentatively. One photo on the source's "tentative" list was of Joe Parks. This is surprising in that these Americans were held in the camp AFTER the 1968 Tet offensive--two years after Parks was supposed to have died. Although this report is lengthy and detailed, including maps and biographical sketches of Vietnamese camp personnel, and the contents were verified by at least one American POW who had been held in the facility and released in 1973, the U.S. reported that it was inaccurate and unreliable. The families of the men whose photos were selected were not given the report until after 1985. When 591 American POWs were released in Operation Homecoming in 1973, Parks was not among them. The Vietnamese reported that he had died in captivity on New Year's Eve, 1966, over two years after he had been captured. The Vietnamese have never attempted to return the remains of Joe Parks, even though they probably know where he is buried. Since the war ended over 10,000 reports such as the one describing the POW facility at Hue have been received by the U.S. Many officials, having reviewed this largely-classified information have reluctantly concluded that hundreds of them are still alive in captivity today. While Joe Parks is, by most reports, dead, how many of his comrades are still alive? How long will they wait for their country to come for them?