Son of American POW befriends captors

VietNamNet Bridge – Thomas Eugene Wilber was 12 years old when his father’s plane was shot down in Vietnam and taken prisoner. Just a day earlier, on 15 June 1968, he had received a belated birthday letter, and for sometime, believed that it could be the last thing he would ever get from his father. Two years later, he heard from his father, then interned in the Hoa Lo Prison. His father told the family he was fine. Forty-five years later, when Wilber had the opportunity to visit Vietnam, the first thing he did was head to the former prison, now a famous museum. He was surprised to see a picture of his father displayed there, opening a parcel that Wilber had himself packed 45 years ago. In less than three years since, Wilber has traveled to Vietnam 17 times, mostly to carry out further research on the anti-war position his father adopted and expressed while he was in prison. The aim of his early visits was also to find out what happened to his father’s co-pilot. Subsequently, he met the person who had taken the body out and buried it after the crashed plane had stopped burning, giving great solace to the family that their loved one’s remains had been buried.   The visit also enabled him to see and appreciate the Vietnamese perspective of the war, and this understanding has increased through all visits hence. His research has since taken Wilber to different parts of Vietnam including Hanoi City,…

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