No One Is More Vulnerable During Wartime Than Prisoners

Decent Essays

No one is more vulnerable during wartime than prisoners of war (POW 's). They are at the mercy of an enemy who they had been trying to kill and defeat up until the moment of their capture. During previous wars, this rather precarious situation was handled with a certain amount of professionalism and dignity on the part of captors. The two world wars in Europe are cases in which POW 's were given a fair amount of food, clothing, and the ability to write and receive letters in most cases. However, the war in the Pacific involving the United States and the Japanese involved a great deal of abuse and substandard treatment of POW 's resulting in a death rate of about 40% compared to only 1% in the European theater. The Soviet Union also did …show more content…

One of their main weapons in achieving this end was to exploit the American POW 's.
In past wars, once POW 's were captured they were for all intents and purposes out of the war. They could no longer fight the enemy and resistance was limited to defying camp regulations. Vietnam would be different. Instead of being out of the fight, the men in captivity found themselves on the front lines of North Vietnam 's war of propaganda. They would be beaten, tortured, and isolated on a daily basis for years on in, but they would continue to do everything in their power to resist the North Vietnamese. They understood that they still had a role to play in the war and that in order to survive and return home with honor, they had to stand together and support one another. Throughout the eight years in which American POW 's were held in Hanoi and surrounding areas would fight on as if they were still actively engaged in the war. They did this for their country in spite of the atrocious living conditions, mental agony, physical suffering, and a great deal of homesickness.
The first American pilot to arrive in Hanoi as a POW was Lieutenant Everett Alvarez when on August 5, 1964 his A4-Skyhawk was shot down over the Gulf of Tonkin in North Vietnam. He was lightly questioned about his activities with the United States, but was not pushed to answer questions. He was treated well and given food, water, a chance to bathe, and he also received

Get Access