1. VOA Standard English
  2. VOA Standard English Archives
  1. Technology Report
  2. This is America
  3. Science in the News
  4. Health Report
  5. Education Report
  6. Economics Report
  7. American Mosaic
  8. In the News
  9. American Stories
  10. Words And Their Stories
  11. Trending Today
  12. AS IT IS
  13. Everyday Grammar
  14. America's National Parks
  15. America's Presidents
  16. Agriculture Report
  17. Explorations
  18. The Making of a Nation
  19. People in America
  1. Learning English Videos
  2. English in a Minute
  3. English @ the Movies
  4. News Words
  5. Everyday Grammar TV
  1. Bilingual News
  2. English in a Minute
  3. Learn A Word
  4. How to Say it
  5. Business Etiquette
  6. Words And Idioms
  7. American English Mosaic
  8. Popular American
  9. Sports English
  10. Go English
  11. Wordmaster
  12. American Cafe
  13. Intermediate American Enlish

Memorial Day: A Former Prisoner of War Remembers Vietnam

28 May, 2017
People across the United States are observing Memorial Day on Monday. The holiday is a time for remembering the men and women who died while serving the U.S. armed forces. Those who fought in the Vietnam War often get special attention on Memorial Day. American soldiers fought with South Vietnamese forces against the Communist forces of North Vietnam. The Vietnam War claimed 58,000 American lives. Former U.S. Air Force Captain Guy Gruters says he volunteered for the war. He told VOA he wanted to prevent communism from spreading. In early 1967, Gruters was sent to Vietnam. During his time there, he flew 400 combat missions against the enemy. His airplane was shot down two times. Gruters said that American helicopters came and rescued him the first time. But the second time, he was captured by North Vietnamese forces. The North Vietnamese first took him to a village and then to a detention center in Hanoi. One week later, he was taken with about 12 other servicemen to a prisoner of war camp known as the "Hanoi Hilton." Gruters described the notorious camp this way: "That's where they had all the torture to get the interrogations for the military information." The fighter pilot was moved to six different camps in five years. He was released in March 1973, after the U.S. and North Vietnamese officials signed a peace agreement. Gruters remembers intense bombing before the agreement was signed. "In December of 1972, the U.S. Air Force and Navy bombed heavily military targets in the Hanoi area. It was called the Christmas Bombing of 1972. In those 11 days, they dropped 40,000 tons of bombs," he said. In the early 1970s, many Americans opposed U.S. involvement in the war. But Gruters says the justification for the conflict is clear today. "By the president of Indonesia, the president of Thailand and Malaysia, the president of the Philippines, that because of the U.S. fighting in Vietnam, they had the courage to fight the communist insurgents in their countries successfully," Gruters said. He added that because of those efforts, communism did not spread. He estimates that there are 450 million people free today in Southeast Asia because of American involvement in Vietnam. Guy Gruters now works as a motivational speaker. He tells the people he meets "We should forget, forgive and love our enemies." I'm Mario Ritter. Nikoleta Ilic reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

combat mission – n. military raids against enemy forces notorious – adj. famous, especially for something bad interrogations – n. the process of getting information from a person often in a forceful way courage adj. bravery insurgents n. someone who rebels against those in power or an establish government motivational – adj. a kind of speaking meant to give people reasons and energy to do something We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our 51VOA.COM.