Tags: Sam Johnson | POW | Vietnam | Nguyen Tan Dung

Ex-POW Rep. Sam Johnson Answers Vietnam Premier's Charge US 'Committed Barbarous Crimes'

By Friday, 01 May 2015 12:17 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Forty years after tanks from Communist North Vietnam rolled into what was then Saigon and accepted the surrender of what was then South Vietnam, the premier of a united Vietnam commemorated the anniversary Thursday by charging that the U.S. "committed countless barbarous crimes" when its armed forces supported South Vietnam before exiting what was then a free country in 1973.

Speaking in Ho Chi Minh City at ceremonies commemorating the surrender in front of the former presidential palace of South Vietnam, Premier Nguyen Tan Dung said that "[The U.S.] committed countless barbarous crimes, caused immeasurable losses and pain to our people and country."

Within hours of the BBC reporting the Dung's remarks, Rep. Sam Johnson (R.-Texas), a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran and prisoner-of-war in North Vietnam, sharply replied to him through Newsmax.

"As someone who spent nearly seven years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War — with 42 months in solitary confinement — to hear Mr. Dung dismiss his country's role in that war where his country was the aggressor on South Vietnam is not surprising," Johnson told us.

In his remarks, Premier Dung noted that, because of the U.S.' "barbarous crimes," "our homeland had to undergo some extremely serious challenges."

The BBC report explained that this may have referred to Vietnamese "who are still suffering from deformities and the lasting effects of the dioxin Agent Orange, sprayed by the U.S. Air Force into the thick jungle used as cover by northern guerrilla forces."

But Rep. Johnson discussed his own "extremely serious challenges" with us.

"I spent months and years in leg irons and leg stocks, and I was starved and beaten when I wouldn't take part in helping them contrive propaganda that I was being treated humanely," he told us. "I bear the physical scars from my time in Vietnam to this day, but I made it home.  I lost dear friends in the Hoa Lo Prison that I will not see again in this lifetime."
 
More than 3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 American troops were killed in a war in which U.S. advisers were assisting the South Vietnamese in defending themselves from the Communist North as far back as 1960. With the withdrawal of U.S. forces after the signing of the Paris Peace accords in 1973, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was able to hold its own against the North thanks to training by the Americans, and arms and military aid voted for by the U.S. Congress.

"[T]hanks to your help," then-South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu told then President Richard Nixon in California on April 2, 1973, "the Vietnamese defense force was able to repel an all-out Communist invasion last year, at a time when American ground troops had been withdrawn."

Just over two years later, with U.S. assistance to the South Vietnamese had been cut off by the 94th Congress, North Vietnam overran Saigon and its Colonel Bui Tin received the unconditional surrender of the South on April 30, 1975. North and South Vietnam were united as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Within two years, neighboring Laos and Cambodia fell to the Communists as well, and millions of former opponents to the North Vietnamese regime were executed or sentenced to re-education camps.

Of his own ordeal, Rep. Johnson said: "That said, my faith teaches me to forgive. As an American veteran, I will always be committed to freedom and to democracy for all."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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The premier of a united Vietnam commemorated the anniversary of the fall of Saigon Thursday by charging that the U.S. "committed countless barbarous crimes" when its armed forces supported South Vietnam before exiting what was then a free country in 1973.
Sam Johnson, POW, Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung
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2015-17-01
Friday, 01 May 2015 12:17 PM
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