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Vietnamese commandos : hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence
of the United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session ...
Wednesday, June 19, 1996
CLIP RELEASED JULY 21/2015
Vietnamese commandos : hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session ... Wednesday, June 19, 1996
Published on Jul 21, 2015
South Vietnamese commandos trained by the US and dropped into the communist North during the Vietnam war are still campaigning for back pay they claim they are owed.
Many of the South Vietnamese were captured, tortured or killed after they were dropped into enemy territory.
Those who survived the ordeal returned to the US - only to discover that the US government had written them off as dead and had stopped paying their families.
South Vietnamese trained by the US military attended a Congressional hearing Wednesday - another step in their fight to get back pay they say the US still owes them.
"Our government is not facing up to the facts. Not facing up to basic humanity."
SUPER CAPTION: Senator Arlen Specter, (R - Pennsylvania) Chairman of Foreign Intelligence Sub-Committee
About 500 commandos infiltrated into North Vietnam as part of a disastrous US operation throughout the 1960s.
Many of them were killed - others were captured and put in prison.
But nearly 200 survived - only to discover that during their stay in jail the US government declared them killed in action and stopped paying their salary to their families.
The survivors - who now live in the US - have filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Claims in an effort to obtain two-thousand US dollars each for every year they spent in prison.
They're supported by Vietnam veteran and Senator John Kerry and other members of Congress who served in Vietnam.
They are filing legislation authorising the payment to the commandos.
"In a sense one of the things they have indicated that they want more perhaps than even money is this process of public acknowledgement for what they went through and the service they gave."
SUPER CAPTION: Senator John Kerry, (D - Massachusetts) Vietnam Veteran
The lawyer for the Vietnamese commandos says it is important to find out exactly what happened to the South Vietnamese.
"The hearing was to look into the issue of how prisoners of war have been left behind, how prisoners of war have been written off as dead, when we knew they were living. And how we treat those who serve and suffer on our behalf."
SUPER CAPTION: John C Mattes, Lawyer
One of the commandos officially back from the dead, Ha Van Son, told a Senate committee how he was abandoned to years of imprisonment in North Vietnam.
He went on to accuse the US of breaking its promise to care for his family.
"Right now I fight not only for my honour, not only for money but also for the future of America that is exactly what I want to see in the United States of America because I think this nation is the best nation of humans."
SUPER CAPTION: Ha Van Son, Former South Vietnamese Commando
The government has asked for dismissal of the commandos' suit because it involves a secret contract for a covert operation and therefore is unenforceable in US courts.
But it supports senator Kerry's legislation which has passed the Senate on a voice vote as an amendment to the Defence Authorisation bill.
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