Hampton says two county veterans still missing in action

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

   Bill Hampton, President of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4, Tennessee, says two Carter County veterans are listed as, "Presumptive Finding of Death, Body Not Recovered" (PFDBNR).
   The bodies of Maj. Dale Johnson and Billy Joe Ellis "have never been brought home ... the remains have never been recovered," Hampton said.
   Johnson, a pilot, was shot down in 1966. "He was immediately listed as 'killed and the body not recovered,'" Hampton said. "His wingman that day, now retired Brig. Gen. Ken Bale, reported seeing the parachute stuck in trees, so there's a very strong possibility that he was not killed."
   Ellis was "an Army guy that was supposedly killed in a rocket and mortar attack, but no shred of his remains was ever located, found, identified and brought home. As far as we're concerned, he's still missing in action," Hampton said.
   The government is responsible for finding MIAs and for "writing them off on paper" so that there is closure and the family can receive any benefits.
   Any living service personnel who are still listed as MIA or POW are existing in very poor living conditions, according to Hampton. "I'm sure that if they are there, they are being used as slaves, either that or still held in cages. I'm sure that they have lost their sanity, brainwashed to death after 30 or 35 years, most certainly."
   North Korea's release of some South Koreans last year after holding them captive for more than 50 years is evidence that American soldiers can survive in captivity for that length of time, according to Hampton. "It's very possible that we still have live POWs in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia," he said.
   Hampton believes the U.S. government "needs to put heat and pressure on foreign governments where these people may be held ... hold the foreign aid, or the trade, until they come forth and say 'Okay, this is all we know.'"
   Hampton said the U.S. is currently making progress with North Vietnam.
   While he is in favor of economic sanctions, Hampton doesn't think military action is a viable option. "That's a little strong, I think," he said. "We're in enough wars right now as it is. We don't need to go back to war over an issue like this."
   Hampton said local residents should write their senators and congressmen, encouraging them to take action on the POW/MIA issue. "This is an issue that is slowly being resolved, but it could be resolved a lot faster," he said.
   If soldiers from previous wars are still alive, and "enough heat, pressure and emphasis are put on trying to find them, there's a very good possibility they could be found," Hampton said.