June 2, 2001
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you about a matter
that is deeply disturbing to me.
There is overwhelming evidence that
American Prisoners of War are still alive in Southeast Asia.
In the years following the
withdrawal of United States forces from Vietnam, there have been
hundreds of eye-witnesses who have said that they have personally
seen them. This letter has been sent to you on behalf of one of
these Un-accounted for American soldiers.
I would like to tell you about
Warrant Officer Randolph Jefferson Ard.
Randolph Ard had
been in Vietnam only a few weeks when an emergency call came in
for him to fly the squadron commander to a platoon command post to
work his way down to his Third Platoon, which was in ambush in the
northwest segment of South Vietnam. On March 7, 1971 he flew his Kiowa Scout
chopper from the 5th Mechanized and picked up Lt. Col. Sheldon
Burnett, the squadron commander; Capt. Phil Bodenhorn, Alpha
Company commander; and SP4 Mike Castro, Third Platoon RTO.
Randy mistakenly flew past the
command post and west into Laos. Seeing yellow marking smoke, he
took the chopper down lower. It was too late to pull up when they
heard the sound of an RPD machine gun and AK-47's. They had been
tricked into a North Vietnamese ambush.
The helicopter went down fast,
and smashed into the brush, coming down on its side (or upside
down, depending on the version of the account). Ard and Burnett
were trapped in the wreckage, but alive. Ard got on the radio and
began mayday calls. Bodenhorn and Castillo, who had been in the
rear seat, got out of the aircraft. Bodenhorn managed to free Ard,
but he had two broken legs and possibly a broken hip. Burnett was
completely pinned within the wreckage and injured, but alive.
Bodenhorn and Castillo positioned themselves on opposite sides of
the aircraft for security and expended all the colored smoke
grenades they had, marking their position for rescue.