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During the Vietnam War, America was in chaos. While the politicians kept wanting to fight against the communists in the Asian country, many objectors protested the war stateside. The country was divided on whether or not America should get involved in a country’s civil war that really didn’t have anything to do with the United States.
Although protests raged in America, thousands of soldiers were shipped overseas to fight for freedom in Vietnam. As a result, thousands of American lives were lost. Additionally, the fearsome Vietcong captured countless Americans and held them in prison of war camps. And that meant these men needed to endure the worst possible conditions imaginable. Not everyone could survive the torturous existence…
Prisoners of war were tortured and tormented right up until the war ended in 1975. At that point, most were sent home. But many more remained lost in the jungles of Vietnam.
One soldier, Army Sgt. 1st Class John Hartley Robertson was able to share his story. But only after he was found alive in the Vietnamese jungle more than 40 years after her was initially captured. Robertson had lived secretly in the jungle until he was discovered in 2008.
A Christian missionary named Tom Faunce was helping locals dig wells in rural Cambodia. During a break from work, Faunce heard a rumor that an American soldier who had survived a 1968 helicopter crash was living somewhere in Laos.
The fallen soldier was allegedly the highly decorated Robertson. After marrying the nurse who saved his life, he stole her dead husband’s identity and fled to South Vietnam under the name Dang Tan Ngoc.
Others laughed but Faunce knew it was true. His Christian values propelled him to take action and find this long-lost American soldier.
He sought the estranged man and found Robertson’s house deep in the jungle. The ex-POW was slender and wise-looking.
But when his wife saw Faunce, she lashed out at him claiming he was not an American soldier but a Vietnamese citizen. The lie was so deeply ingrained she believed it.
Because Robertson never expected to see another American like Faunce – especially one trying to bring him back home – Robertson was overwhelmed. A flood of questions bubbled up. He relentlessly asked Faunce for answers, but the Christian missionary, who only looked Robertson up on a hunch, did not have the valuable answers. He did not know if Robertson’s family was still alive in America.
Eventually, a documentary filmmaker by the name of Michael Jorgensen sent a mercenary to Vietnam to capture Robertson and bring him back to his family. His sister Jean was still alive and living in Canada. She was eager to see her long-lost brother.
The documentary shows how Robertson thrived in the Vietnamese jungle. He had forgotten his American roots and only spoke Vietnamese. He didn’t even remember his children.
But when he was finally reunited with the clan in the Western hemisphere, it was a tearful reunion. A translator helped Robertson communicate. It was a heartwarming moment. But also very sad. To think this soldier had been abandoned for so long.
But a DNA test proved something else. The man they found in the jungle was not the real Robertson. He was a fraud. The real soldier had probably died years ago.
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