Within the dense jungle terrain in Darlac Province, close to the provincial capital of Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam, American physician Eleanor Ardel Vietti had discovered her calling to heal.
But that very same calling led her to turned America’s first feminine prisoner of battle in Vietnam. To today, Vietti stays the one American girl POW whose destiny stays unknown.
Known as to service, Vietti, alongside the Christian and Missionary Alliance and tribal nurses, labored to deal with these stricken with leprosy inside South Vietnam’s largest ethnic minority, the Montagnards — a French phrase for “mountain folks.”
Inside Montagnards communities the charges of the illness might attain a staggering 30 p.c, among the highest in the world.
Nevertheless, amid escalating tensions between guerrilla factions underneath Ho Chi Minh and South Vietnamese forces and their overseas advisors, the U.S. State Division cautioned all American expats to leave the nation.
Focused assaults in opposition to the Montagnards have been additionally on the rise, however regardless of that and authorities warnings, Vietti and 4 different missionaries – Dan Gerber, a member of the Central Mennonite Committee, and Rev. Archie and Betty Mitchell — believed they have been in no inherent hazard and continued their work inside the Leprosarium compound.
The evening of May 20, 1962, was one of many final nights that Vietti and the 2 males have been ever seen alive.
That even 12 armed guerilla fighters descended on the colony, tying up Archie Mitchell and Dan Gerber, and ordered Vietti out of her home. Vietti and the opposite two captives have been sure and brought away by the guerrillas, and it stays unclear why the three prisoners have been taken. No ransom calls for have been ever made.
Mitchell, by the way, was the lone survivor of the 1945 Japanese fire-bombing attack off the coast of Oregon that killed his first spouse, Eloise, and 5 neighborhood kids. The Japanese raid was the one profitable enemy assault on mainland America throughout World Battle II.
It appears probably that the Viet Cong raid was aimed toward acquiring hospital provides, with Rev. T. Grady Mangham, director of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, telling the New York Times in 1962 that, “I fairly assume they have been in want of medical provides.”
Since that night Vietti’s standing stays “Unaccounted For,” with the Protection POW/MIA Accounting Company concluding, “The three missionaries have been pressured to march south, and have been finally executed whereas in Viet Cong custody. The precise places and circumstances surrounding their deaths are unknown.”
Rumors stay about their standing, with jungle tribesmen by way of the years claiming that they noticed a white girl with two white males. These assertions have by no means been substantiated, nonetheless.
Since 1994, the official place inside the U.S. authorities has been that no American captured throughout the battle stays alive.