Abandoned in Place by Lynn M. O’Shea
Probably few people have ever heard of Lynn O’Shea. Lynn devoted much of her adult life as an advocate for families of United States servicemen missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. At the time of her death, Lynn served as the Director of Research for the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Servicemen. This organization is the only national POW/MIA advocacy group that represents families from all past conflicts.
Ever since the end of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, a question has lingered. Did the United States government, either knowingly or unwittingly, abandon members of our Armed Forces to prison camps in Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War? Lynn was not related to a POW or MIA serviceman. Instead she took an interest in the case of Staff Sergeant John Jakovic, whose POW/MIA bracelet she wore. The book, Abandoned in Place is the result of her years of meticulous and tireless research to answer the question.
Lynn assembled an impressive array of documentation on her subject. The material included documents that have been declassified and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from agencies such as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), and the National Security Council (NSC). Interestingly, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which played a significant role in operations to “investigate” the issue, refused to cooperate. The book has been meticulously footnoted and annotated and includes numerous documents, maps, photographs, and drawings that support the facts she presents regarding the issue of warriors left behind.
There is much in the book that will shock the reader. You will read about:
- Pham Louang prison camp in the remote hills of Laos near the village of Nhom Marrott;
- Operation Pocket Change, a failed and inept CIA operation to discover the secrets of Pham Louang;
- Continual faulty intelligence that led to the “mindset to debunk” thousands of live sightings reports;
- Internecine fighting between and among various intelligence agencies;
- The flawed hearings of the Senate Select Committee on POW’s and MIA’s;
- The motivation behind Senators McCain and Kerry to aggressively conclude no Americans were left behind;
- The decision to place the remains of a Vietnam Unknown in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier despite compelling evidence as to the identity of the remains, and then, subsequently, removing the remains of Air Force Lt. Michael J. Blassie; and
- The ineptness of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
Thanks to the steadfast efforts of Lynn O’Shea, our nation now has a much clearer understanding of how and why the U.S. Government left men behind. Abandoned in Place provides the reader with a riveting account of the ineptitude, lies, cover-up, and deceptions made by officials who, seemingly, valued their careers more than the men who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the country they loved.
“From the Bookshelf” will be a recurring series of book reviews that will appear in the VFW Post #8870 newsletter from time to time. This review was written by Fred Apgar.