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In Love and Peace they came!

Sadly, in a foreign land filled with hate, they met their fate


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Thus saith the Lord; refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord: And they shall come again from the land of the enemy; saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah, 31: 16 - 17


Betty Ann Olsen

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Betty Ann Olsen
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Name: Betty Ann Olsen
Rank Branch: U.S. Civilian
Unit: Missionary Nurse/Christian Missionary Alliance
Date of Birth: 22 October 1934
Home City of Record: New York NY
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Date of Loss: 01 February 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 124049N 1080235E (AQ776008)
Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity
Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Additional Information:

Other Personnel in Incident: Mike Benge (released POW); Henry F. Blood (captured); Rev.Griswald (killed); Carolyn Griswald (daughter of Rev.Griswald, survived first attack, died of wounds); Rev. Zeimer (killed); Mrs.Robert Zeimer (wounded, first attack, evaded, survived); Rev.& Mrs.Thompson; Miss Ruth Whilting (all killed)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.


REMARKS: DIC 29 SEP 1968

SYNOPSIS:

Michael D. Benge was born in 1935 and raised on a ranch in eastern Oregon. After college at Oregon State, he applied to the CIA, because he wanted to travel the world. CIA told him to try the Agency for International Development (AID). AID sent him to International Voluntary Services (IVS). After two years in Vietnam with IVS, Benge transferred to AID and served as an AID agricultural advisor. By the time of the Tet offensive of 1968, he had been in-country five years, working almost the whole time with the Montagnards in the highlands. He spoke fluent Vietnamese and several Montagnard dialects.

On January 31, 1968, Benge was captured while riding in a jeep near Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam. Learning of the Tet offensive strikes, Benge was checking on some IVS volunteers who were living in a hamlet with three companies of Montagnard rebels who had just been through a lot of fighting as the NVA went through the Ban Me Thuot area. His plan was to pick up the IVS "kids" and then go down to pick up some missionaries in the area.

Benge was captured a few miles from the Leprosarium at Ban Me Thuot. This center treated anyone with a need as well as those suffering from leprosy. It was at the Leprosarium that Rev. Archie Mitchell, Dr. Eleanor Vietti and Daniel Gerber had been taken prisoner in 1962. The Viet Cong regularly harassed and attacked the center in spite of its humanitarian objectives.

During the Tet offensive, the Viet Cong again tried to wipe out the Christian missionary influence in Dar Lac Province, and over a three day period attacked the hospital compound several times.

Betty Ann Olsen was born to Missionary parents in Bouake, Ivory Coast. She had attended a religious school and missionary college in Nyack, New York. Curious about the way the other part of the world lived, she went to Vietnam in 1964 as a missionary nurse for Christian and Missionary Alliance, and was assigned to the Leprosarium at Ban Me Thuot. Henry F. Blood was a missionary serving as translator and linguist for Wickcliff Translators at the Leprosarium.

During one of the earlier attacks on the hospital compound, three staff homes were destroyed, one housing Rev. Griswald, who was killed, and his grown daughter Carolyn, who survived the explosion but later died of her wounds. During the same attack, Rev. and Mrs. Zeimer, Rev.and Mrs. Thompson and Miss Ruth Whilting were trapped and machine gunned. Only Mrs. Zeimer survived her 20-30 wounds and was later evacuated to Cam Ranh Bay. Blood and Olsen escaped injury for the moment. Two days later, on February 1, 1968, as Olsen was preparing to escape with the injured Griswald, she and Henry Blood were captured during another attack on the hospital.

For the next month or so, Benge, Blood and Olsen were held in a POW camp in Darlac Province, about a day's walk from Ban Me Thuot, and were held in cages where they had nothing to eat but boiled manioc (a large starchy root from which tapioca is made).

The Vietnamese kept moving their prisoners, hiking through the jungles and mountains. The camp areas, swept very clean of leaves to keep the mosquito population down (and the ensuing malaria threat), were clearly visible from the sky. Once, Benge reports, an American aircraft came so close to the camp that he could see the pilot's face. The pilot "wagged his wings" and flew away. The Vietnamese, fearing rescue attempts and U.S. air strikes, kept moving

For months Olsen, Blood and Benge were chained together and moved north from one encampment to another, moving over 200 miles through the mountainous jungles. The trip was grueling and took its toll on the prisoners. They were physically depleted, sick from dysentery and malnutrition; beset by fungus, infection, leeches and ulcerated sores Mike Benge contracted cerebral malaria and nearly died. He credits Olsen with keeping him alive.She forced him to rouse from his delirium to eat and drink water and rice soupMike Benge describes Olsn as "a Katherine Hepburn type...[with] an extra bit of grit."

In the summer of 1968, the prisoners, again on the trail, were left exposed to the rain during the rainy season. Hank Blood contracted pneumonia, weakened steadily, and eventually died in July. (July 1968 is one of the dates given by the Vietnamese - the other, according to classified information the U.S. gave to the Vietnamese through General John Vessey indicates that Mr. Blood died on October 17, 1972. Mike Benge says Blood died around July 4.) Blood was buried in a shallow grave along the trail, with Olsen conducting grave-side services.

Benge and Olsen were kept moving. Their bodies were covered with sores, and they had pyorrhea from beri-beri. Their teeth were loosening and gums infected. They spent a lot of time talking about good meals and good places to eat, planning to visit their favorite restaurants together when they went home. They moved every two or three days.

Benge and Olsen were moved near Tay Ninh Province, almost to Da Lat, then back to Quang Duc Province. Olsen was getting weak, and the Vietnamese began to kick and drag her to keep her moving. Benge, trying to defend her, was beaten with rifle butts.

Just before crossing the border into Cambodia, Olsen weakened to the point that she could no longer move. Ironically, in this area, near a tributary to the Mekong river, fish and livestock abounded, and there was a garden, but the food was denied to the prisoners. They were allowed to gather bamboo shoots, but were not told how to cook it.

Bamboo needs to be boiled in two waters to extract an acid substance. Not knowing this, Olsen and Benge boiled their food only once and were beset with immobilizing stomach cramps within a half-hour; diarrhea soon followed. Betty Ann Olsen weakened and finally died September 29, 1968 (Vessey information indicates this date as September 26), and was buried by Benge.

Finally, Benge was taken to Cambodia, turned over to the North Vietnamese, and another long, grueling trek began. Benge, however, had made his mind up that he wouldn't die. He treated his ulcerated body by lying in creeks and allowed small fish to feed off the dead tissue (a primitive debridement), then caught the fish and ate them raw. He caught small, green frogs and swallowed them whole. He did everything he could to supplement his meager food ration.

By the time he reached the camp the Vietnamese called "the land of milk and honey" his hair was white and he was so dehydrated and emaciated that other POWs estimated his age to be over seventy years old. He was, at the time, only thirty-three.

After a year in Cambodia, Benge was marched north on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Hanoi. He spent over three years in camps there, including a total of twenty-seven months in solitary confinement. Upon his return, he verified collaboration charges against eight of his fellow POWs, in a prosecution effort initiated by Col. Theodore Guy (this action was discouraged by the U.S. Government and the effort was subsequently abandoned.) Mike Benge then returned to Vietnam and worked with the Montagnards until the end of the war.

The Vietnamese have never attempted return the remains of Henry Blood and Betty Olsen. They are two individuals that the Vietnamese could provide a wealth of information on. Since they pride themselves on being "humanitarians," it would not be in keeping with this image to reveal the horror Olsen and Blood endured in their hands. It is not surprising, then, that the Vietnamese have not publicly told their stories.

Olsen and Blood are among nearly 2500 Americans, including several civilians, who are still unaccounted for, missingor prisoner from the Vietnam war. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received concerning these missing Americans which have convinced many authorities that hundreds are still alive in communist hands.

While Olsen and Blood may not be among them, they went to Vietnam to help. Thats right, just to help.

All Biographical and loss information on POW/MIA's provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET.


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Betty Ann Olsen

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Beatrice Kosin
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Name: Beatrice Elizabeth Kosin
Rank/Branch: Civilian
Unit: Missionary, Christian Missions of Many Lands
Date of Birth: 28 April 1937
Home City of Record: Wheaton, Illinois
Birth Place: Geneva, Illinois
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Date of Loss: 27 October 1972 Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162600N 1061200E (WD215175)
Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity
Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Additional Information:

Other Personnel in Incident: Evelyn Anderson (assassinated);
Lloyd Oppel; Samuel Mattix (both released POWs)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: Raw data from U.S. Government agency sources. Correspondence with POW/MIA families published sources, and interviews.


REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: In the late hours of Saturday, October 27, 1972, a small group of North Vietnamese soldiers invaded the southern Laotian town of Kengkock, about thirty-five miles from Savannakhet. They took prisoners, including Evelyn Anderson, Beatrice Kosin, Lloyd Oppel and Samuel Mattix, all missionaries working for Christian Missions of Many Lands. Several other Americans managed to escape and radioed for help.

At 9:04 on Sunday morning following the capture, an American helicopter arrived and evacuated nine Filipinos, five Lao and the Americans who had radioed for help. Less than an hour later, Sgt. Gerry Wilson returned by helicopter to try and locate the two American women. Lt.Colonel Norman Vaught immediately set rescue plans into motion.

The American Embassy in Vientiane heard of the rescue plan and ordered from the highest level that no attempt be made to rescue the women. The peace negotiations were ongoing and it was feared that a rescue attempt would compromise the sustained level of progress at the talks.

On November 2, 1972, a radio message was intercepted which ordered that the two women be executed. A captured North Vietnamese soldier later told U.S. military intelligence that the women were captured, tied back to back and their wrists wired around a house pillar. The women remained in this position for five days. After receiving orders to execute the two, the Communists simply set fire to the house where they were being held and burned the women alive. A later search of the smoldering ruins revealed the corpse of Kosin and Anderson. Anderson's wrist was severed, indicating the struggle she made to free herself.

Oppel and Mattix, the men who were captured with Anderson and Kosin, were held captive and released in 1973. It is speculated that the women would have been too much trouble to care for on the long trip to Hanoi, and were killed instead. They were held in Hanoi from December 6, 1972 until January 16, 1973 at which time they were removed to a small country prison and interrogated for three weeks. They were then moved back to Hanoi and released on March 28. Contrary to some statements, the two were not released by the Pathet Lao, but by the Vietnamese.

Beatrice's remains were identified through dental records and returned to the United States, where she was interred at the Wheaton Cemetary, Wheaton, Illinois. Beatrice, is the second of 4 children, she is survived by two brother's, Kinsman the eldest, Frederick, the 3rd child, and a sister Mary who resides in Sidney, Australia. Beatrice graduated from Wheaton Academy, Wheaton, Illinois. Her parents worked as missionary's on the Fort Washakie, Wyoming., Shoshone Indian Reservation.

Note:  Beatrice was scheduled to leave on R & R in October 72, to visit her sister Mary in Sidney, Australia, but chose to remain in Laos and finish her Language studies. Had she gone, she could very well have been spared the atrocious act inflicted upon her.

Note2: Beatrice's picture provided by Fred, her brother. Thank you Fred for sending it to me and for allowing me to scan it, and place it on my web page. Beatrice, and her work will never be forgotten. She truly is an Angel!

Kosin and Anderson were not in Laos to kill, but to help. Their deaths must be blamed not only on the Communists who set the fire that killed them, but also on the faceless, nameless Americans who decided they were expendable.

All Biographical and loss information on POW/MIA's provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET  regularly for updates.



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