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Family Odysseys: Working at Home for POW-MIAs

Families of Americans captured in Southeast Asia could not be sure whether missing servicemen were alive or dead, since North Vietnam refused to release a list of prisoners. 

Quiet Diplomacy 
Initially, the U.S. government urged families to remain silent because public outcry might make POW treatment worse or wreck peace negotiations. After years of frustration the wives formed the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. They went ahead with a public campaign to bring pressure on North Vietnam to reveal names of captives and to ensure their humane treatment. 

Going Public 
Public sentiment against North Vietnam's POW treatment grew after some prisoners, released as a "good will" gesture, told of the true conditions in North Vietnam. The U.S. government joined the wives and families in calling for full accounting and humane POW treatment. Wives and relatives of POWs and MIAs even confronted the North Vietnamese peace delegation in Paris. 

During the last three years of the war, POW/MIA groups used every opportunity to focus attention on the plight of the POWs and MIAs, and continued their efforts to find the missing after the war. 

Click here to return to Return with Honor: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia.