WANAT, GEORGE KARP JR.
Name: George Karp Wanat, Jr. Rank/Branch: United States Army/O3 Unit: Date of Birth: 1946 Home City of Record: Waterford CT Date of Loss: 08 April 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 115009 North 1063531 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Missions: Other Personnel in Incident: Refno:
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.
REMARKS: 730212 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).
GEORGE K. WANAT Captain - United States Army Captured: May 4, 1972 Released: February 12, 1973
I am an Army Captain, twenty-seven years old, and have been in the service for four years. I entered active duty in 1969 after graduating from Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont as a Psych-Ed. major, and was stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky; Camp Drum, New York; and Ft. Bragg, North Carolina before going to Vietnam in July 1971 as a Mobil Advisory Team leader. I served as a MAT leader for five months when the program was phased out in Binh Long Province where I worked. So, I took a position as Assistant District Senior Advisor in Loc Ninh District, Binh Long Province - near the area commonly called the "flatiron."
It was while working at Loc Ninh that I was captured during the April 1972 NVA/VC offensive on SVN. On April 5, 6 and 7 our compound came under heavy artillery, rocket and mortar attack, followed by ground attacks and an attack by tanks (Russian and captured American ones) which was the final blow to us. We could no longer hold out and were overrun. Approximately thirty men who were left moved out of the compound under air cover support and an extraction by helicopter was attempted, but heavy antiaircraft fire prevented the choppers from landing, so we moved south attempting to join up with friendly units. We were ambushed a number of times and I ended up separated from the Vietnamese. I hid out in and around a few small hamlets for thirty days trying to make it to friendly forces, eating green bananas from the trees and getting rice from some friendly Montagnards Heavy air attack and too many NVA in the area prevented me from getting south to friendly people. I was captured 4 May at about noontime while sitting under a bush not paying enough attention to what was happening. I was taken prisoner and moved to a camp in Cambodia where I remained until release ten months later on 12 February 1973.
I feel rather fortunate that I was imprisoned for a short time (ten months). I feel this way because although the PRG/VC advertise good, humane, and lenient treatment, it was not. The food - three plates of rice, each with a piece or two of pork fat about the size of a nickel and vegetable if available (mostly a spinach-like vegetable) per day was not enough protein for a human being. They, I feel, purposely kept us in a weak condition so that if we did have the opportunity to escape (we were chained), we would be very weak and could travel only a short distance.
How did we sustain ourselves during our confinement? I reinforced to myself, during this period of extreme stress and understimulated environment, my belief in God. As a prisoner I knew I was alive, but I knew my loved ones had no idea of me being alive or dead, so I worried constantly for them. I prayed an extreme amount, praying that they too could develop a faith in God that I had-that they would put all of their faith and hope in God. I used to say to myself, day after boring day, that there were only three things that I could do, wait, hope, and pray. I didn't think our government had forgotten about us although I had no idea how long I would be a prisoner. It was just no way for a man to have to live - no communication, chained like a dog shouldn't even be, and kept on a minimal diet with inadequate medical care.
Enough about my imprisonment. Now I've re-met my wife and family and the patience I learned as a prisoner has greatly helped me in our relationship. How she ever held up, not knowing my status, I'll never know. Now I must make some decisions whether or not to return to school, stay on active duty, or what. All I know is that now even a rainy day is a nice day to me, and I thank God for my freedom.
Captain Wanat retired from the Army and resides in Massachusetts.