Mike Benge, a man we interviewed this summer, was "an AID technician captured in the South" as it is described in the book Strange Ground by Harry Maurer. He describes the night of the Tet offensive, and how he went out the check on things the next morning. He describes the moments when he got captured:
It was ironic: The squad I got captured by was a North Vietnamese propaganda squad. And their leader--you have to imagine a North Vietnamese who really didn't have command of English trying to say, "Surrender, we will give you humane and lenient treatment." This guy had a little Hitler mustache and his hair came down in his eyes about like Hitler. It was really weird, like out of a movie. Here's this little Hitlerite guy, telling me, "Sullendah, we give you humane and renient tleatment."
His story in this book is an intense one, and I recommend you pick up a copy to learn more. He is an excellent story teller, candid and humorous. I enjoy the details he includes in his stories, like drinking coffee royals with Dr. Hickey to celebrate at his Tet party:
The Chinese firecrackers were going off, the tracers were flying. About that time an 81mm mortar landed out in front of my house. I said, "Oh, shit, Gerry, I think this is the real thing."
We were there all night long, drinking coffee royals, keeping everybody awake. Between the adrenaline of thinking you're going to get overrun and the coffee royals, we were pretty goddamn high. Nobody knew what the hell was going on.
If you want to read more about Mike Benge, here are some things I found online:
- POW Network
- The POWs We Left Behind
- Not Saluting Jane Fonda
- Shame on Jane