FALLING FOR A POW HOAX?
Documentary Film To Be Shown at GI Film Festival
By Harold Hutchison
POW/MIA advocates believe that a film that will be shown – claiming an American missing in action from the Vietnam War is alive and well in Vietnam – has fallen for a hoax. According to the film Unclaimed, Master Sergeant John Hartley Robertson of the United States Army has been living in Vietnam for over four decades. Military records indicated that Master Sgt. Robertson was among five people killed when a CH-34 helicopter was shot down on 20 May, 1968.
The claim has been disputed by the National Alliance of POW/MIA Families. In an e-mail, Research Director Lynn O’Shea said, “In 1993, the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs concluded there was evidence of survival for a small number of POWs after Operation Homecoming. We do not know what happened to that small number of POWs and our effort to find out continue to this day.
“Unfortunately, the current story on the discovery of John Hartley Robertson is untrue. The first purported photo of John Hartley Robertson circulated in the 2003/2004 period; it came with a letter and a list of personal information. This information was correct with regard to name, date of birth and date and type of loss, all easily available on the internet. Wrong information included, service number, high school, fathers name, and wife's name. It also listed a brother but no sister.”
O’Shea went on to ask, “Ask yourself this question. If you managed to rescue, a POW left behind in Vietnam, get him to Canada, and produce a documentary about it, why would you leave any question as to his identity unanswered? Why leave it to the viewers of the film to decide? If this were a POW, left behind over 40 years, his return would be the story of the century. A simple DNA test (a cheek swab) would resolve all questions. Yet, the filmmaker and the subject of his film seem reluctant to determine, positively, the identity of the man they purport to be John Hartley Robertson. Why?”
A newsletter from the group noted, “According to a February 19 2009 memo, DPMO reports, the FBI examined fingerprints provided as those of JHR and they ‘did not match those in SFC Robertson's official records.’ A source told us that a DNA test done in 2009 did not match a Robertson family reference sample.”
John Stryker Meyer, who has written about the Studies and Observation Group, added, “The real Robertson was MIA/KIA in May '68. This guy in [the] movie is a phony.”
Meyer also forwarded an e-mail exchange between Don Bendell and the organizers of the GI Film Festival. “The man seen in the documentary posing as John Hartley Robertson is a guy from France, an impostor, who has been used to scam money from well-meaning veterans and others who would LOVE to see any POW rescued, and scammed many Germans, too,” Bendell wrote to the organizer of the Festival. “If you allow this documentary to air, your film show will be done, finished, all credibility gone,” Bendell added.
The National Alliance of POW/MIA Families said in their newsletter, “In summary, until an independent DNA test confirms the identity of any individual representing himself as John Hartley Robertson, these reports must be viewed as a Scam, Hoax, and Fraud, inflicting serious damage to the POW/MIA issue and any live POW in Southeast Asia, North Korea, China and the former Soviet Union. We would like nothing more than to be wrong about this. Unfortunately, the evidence supports our conclusion in this matter.”