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Archive for Friday, February 4, 1994

LIFTING BAN WORRIES MIA FAITHFUL

February 4, 1994

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Two area Vietnam veterans say the issue of missing American soldiers still needs to be resolved.

An area Vietnam veteran say he's disappointed in President Clinton's decision to lift the trade ban between the United States and Vietnam while American soldiers still may be held captive in Indochina.

But another local veteran says it may be time to move forward.

"I think Clinton broke his promise to veterans and to the family and friends of the veterans still unaccounted for," said Tom Berger, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy from 1966 to 1968.

Berger, who is associate director of Kansas University's office of affirmative action, said Clinton promised to keep pressure on Vietnam for a full accounting of missing American solders.

"But in the larger perspective, of course, we have to move on. So I'm not against lifting the ban. However, I still believe we need a full accounting and we should not lessen our efforts," Berger said.

Berger was on his way to Kansas City, Mo., this morning to attend a regional Vietnam Veterans of America conference, where the matter was expected to be discussed.

Meanwhile, John Musgrave, a Baldwin resident who is a disabled Vietnam veteran, said he was "very disappointed" in the president's action.

"I believe that the government of the United States just gave up the best opportunity to get live Americans out of Indochina," said Musgrave, who was shot three times while serving in the Marines from 1966 through 1968 in Vietnam.

"We're rewarding Vietnam for doing nothing on the live POW issue. All of the so-called progress in the last several years, and particularly in the last 12 months, has only been in pursuit of remains," Musgrave said. "And there's been no serious attempt to follow up on the live sighting reports."

Musgrave, who has been speaking publicly on the MIA issue since 1975, said that as many as 600 American soldiers still could be held captive, according to some estimates.

"It doesn't matter if it's just one, it could be me. And then the number of one would certainly be significant," he said. "The evidence suggests that we're talking in the three digits for live Americans. This includes Laos, as well as Vietnam."

Musgrave says the president apparently has caved in to business interests.

"It's boiled down to dollars and cents, which is probably why we were sent to the war in the first place," Musgrave said. "Despite the president's denials, it's obvious that the business community has wanted this for a long time to open up new markets. It makes you wonder about the price of those lives."

Both Berger and Musgrave said they have friends who are still missing in action.

"I now have dozens of friends whose fathers or husbands or brothers are unaccounted for," Musgrave said.

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