Biographies on Prisoners of War from Yugoslavia

Gonzales, Steven M.     Spec.   USA, released

Ramirez Andrew A.     SSgt.    USA, released

Stone, Christopher J.    SSgt.    USA, released


The messages below were received 04/01/99 by a former POW held over 5 years in North Vietnam. He stated, "I had never thought of captivity from my son's perspective before."  We urge each of you to read it...  and pass it on.  We have removed any names to protect their privacy.
                                                                                 P.O.W. NETWORK

Dear Dad:

So tonight you get to listen.  I've worked my ass off this month. Billed over 200 hours.  The norm is 160.  MC had a file assigned to me from one of his clients.  I spent an hour on the phone with the carrier. They're out of C.  I don't think he will be getting the files anymore. Nope. They're all mine now.

I came home to the news that Clinton has lost three ground pounders to "the cause."  Remember the Gulf of Tonkin?  Here we go.  I guess McCain will get his wish now. What the heck are we doing there?  This is triggering some weird emotions.  I wonder how many messed up people will we get out of this one?  How many generations?  I think of all the two year olds that can get as messed up as me and I get so angry.  Angry just doesn't cut it.

I wonder if the F117 pilot had a two year old at home.  Let Clinton explain why he almost didn't have a father around for a while.  Tell me what this country accomplished for this world for my sacrifice?  You can't can you.  No one can.  Rationalize our relationship for thirty years.  Was one  life saved?  For what?  Honor?  Country?  Duty?  And this great country elects a draft dodger.  Yeah....Can they give me back thirty years? Erase the confusion?

Oh well.  I did this through the Gulf war thing.  I wonder about my classmates in OCS for the Marines and OTS for the Air Force.  Do they have kids like I do?  Do they even know what to expect if they serve their country and don't come home for year after  year?  Do they even comprehend what that kid will feel?  How it will affect every  relationship?  How alone he or she will feel?  How different they will feel?

Funny.  Never expressed this before.  I am so alone.  No one thinks of the kids.  At least you were a hero.  I'm just messed up.  Funny.  Normal is a bad word for me.  Don't want to be normal.

All I can see is that  picture of you.  Sitting on the dresser. Walking into the closet and looking at the uniforms.  God please let's
not mess up any more kids.  I remember talking to you on the phone for the first time.  I remember writing you cards.  LOL.  You never even got them.

Oh well.  Who cares anyway.  Flip the switch.  Calm.  Doesn't matter.


Dear Dad:

Normally it is all gone in the morning.  I got up and put on the suit. I had a court appearance this morning.  So I decided to stop by Starbuck's and get a coffee.  And there it was in front of me.  USA Today.  Their pictures. The wall immediately came up and has been all day.

Pictures.  How about going to Mather AFB for the Thunderbirds.  Your dad flew these.  Anticipation in seeing one of them fly.  Just like my dad. So we went on the flight line.  I was always traded off to whatever poor sergeant was assigned to entertain the pow kid.  And there it was.  An RF-4.  They blew up your picture and had it leaning against the front landing gear.

They let me get into the cockpit.  In the back.  This is where you dad sat. They meant well.  They couldn't get me to sit down in your seat. They pushed and pushed.  I remember it like yesterday.  I think I was about four or five.

LOL.  That  picture.  The official one.  All duty.  Very cold.  LOL. I was so  terrified I would disappear like you if I sat down.

Then they came out with the photo of the pow in the cell.  Head downcast and hands between his legs.  They told me it wasn't you.  I asked if you were there.  Yes.  So then I knew where you were.  Bleak.  No hope.  Despair.

Yeah, show that to a kid and tell them that's where your father is at. Yeah, real good thing.

And then I see the  pictures this morning.  Same look.  Same feeling. Someone should tell them to not show the kids.  Kids may not understand the big picture or the cause but they understand the look in the eye and the background.  And they never forget.

I've never talked about this before.  And then as I grew up and understood what you were going through.  Tied it all in to the feelings and images I  grew up with.  And people wonder why I am like I am.

That's why I have reservations about the reunion.  I will be there, I promised.  It's like opening up a tomb best left alone.

And yet the times I have communicated with the other kids I felt a connection.  Like maybe someone else might understand.

I don't know why you would want to share my ramblings.  But you can if you want.  If it helped you to understand a little.  Then ok.

And you wonder why the walls are up.  LOL.  Because it's all starting again. Funny.  Everyone was so concerned if I would remember you when you came home.  All I was worried about was whether you would remember me.  I still wonder that.  Well, I did for a long time.  So much wasted time.  You have no idea. It's very different from this perspective.

How easy it all comes back.

This will not be good for either of us.  I guess we only have each other to get us through it.  So hold on.  I am going through it with you in a different way but I am here with you.  I want you to think of something.

What if I was in the Marines and I was the one captured that you see plastered over the tv.  Wouldn't be easy would it?

Keep the faith.  I'm in the nightmare with you.

Your son, no matter what.