Sunday, June 25, 2006

Question Of The Week, 6/25/06

Good Morning. I'm sure most of you have heard that I wear a stainless steel POW/MIA bracelet with the name GYSGT Galen F. Humphrey on it. I have met several members of his family. I first met his Daughter Susan Montee when she ran for a seat on the Saint Joseph City Council (Saint Joseph, Missouri). She has been climbing the political ladder since then. She is now running for the State Auditor's seat. I got the idea for this weeks Question Of The Week from a June 21, 2006 St. Joseph News-Press article that mentions Susan and her Father. In fact the article asks this weeks question.

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6/21/2006

Families of MIAs left to wonder
Montee's father disappeared in 1966 in Vietnam

Aaron Bailey

It's a question Susan Montee often thinks about. Is it better to know a loved one has been killed in the enormity of war or be left to wonder if they're alive, missing and lost?

For the families of two U.S. soldiers captured last week in Iraq, the question has been answered.

The bodies of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., were recovered south of Bagdad late Monday night. Preliminary reports indicate the two were tortured and killed by members of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Ms. Montee is left to wonder.

In 1966, a 7-year-old girl learned her father, Galen Humphrey, had disappeared over the jungles of Vietnam. A helicopter carrying the U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant was shot down, beginning decades of questions.

Forty years later, that girl has grown up and currently is vying for the state auditor's seat.

But Ms. Montee and her family are still in the dark about Mr. Humphrey's whereabouts.

"We always believed he was coming home," Ms. Montee said. "It's different when a family member is missing in action than a (prisoner of war). The problem is you have no closure. You're constantly wondering if someone's coming home."

Frank Knapp's family also endured years of uncertainty. For three and a half years, Mr. Knapp lived day to day in the hands of enemy forces.

When Japanese soldiers captured the 194th Tank Battalion in the Philippines during World War II, Mr. Knapp was one of 32 members from St. Joseph who endured years of captivity as a POW.

"The conditions were terrible, then the dysentery and malaria set in," Mr. Knapp recalled. "Americans were dying so fast we couldn't get them all buried."

Mr. Knapp was one of thousands of captured American soldiers who were forced to hike 83 miles in hellish conditions without food or water, now referred to as the "Bataan Death March." He was then forced to work 12-hour shifts seven days a week, first as a metal scrapper, then in a coal mine.

He had little time to think about family when working in the scorching sun or in the depths of a cave, Mr. Knapp said.

"We didn't have time to think about it--didn't have time to think about family," he said. "All we thought about was survival."

Death for the soldiers also came at the hands of their captors. Likening al-Qaida fighters to his own captors decades ago, the mentality propagated by war tends to lend itself to brutality, Mr. Knapp said.

"They would rotate the guards, and some of the guards would be all right, but some were terrible," he recalled. "I've seen people shot, beheaded...and for no particular reason."

Those are some of the outcomes Ms. Montee fears for her father.

But is it worse to know than not? Her family often discusses this question.

"I think it all comes down to your faith," she said. "It's a difficult situation. You just have to trust everything works out for the best."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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This weeks Question Of The Week is. Just suppose you had a family member (if you don't have) serving overseas in our "War Against Terrorism". What would be worse, having someone knock on your door to tell you they are sorry to inform you that your family member has been killed in action or that they don't know what happened to them, they are missing in action or possibly a prisoner of war?

I'll post my answer in the Comment Section Monday night.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

9 Comments:

Blogger Always On Watch said...

At first, the not-knowing would allow for hope. But as months drag on, not having closure--as difficult as closure would be--is worse. One's imagination would run wild as to the possible horrors being visited on the loved one.

5:27 AM  
Blogger maccusgermanis said...

AOW is right. Everyone has a desire to honor their loved ones. As terrible as the grief of loss may be, honoring the dead is a comparatively simple matter of rememberance. Family members of MIA have the confusion of whether, rememberance is enough, or if they must always continue to hope for a return.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Butch said...

Good work Dave...

7:49 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

I wouldn't know how I would react or which would be better or worse. And I pray I will never have to know :(

5:49 AM  
Anonymous And Another Thing said...

That is a real Hobson's Choice, David. I would agree with AOW that death is much easier to deal with than missing.

Good Question.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Jake Porter said...

I don't think I can answer this question.

5:11 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

I want to thank everyone for stopping by to answer this weeks question. Not an easy one to answer. Two of my Uncles (that I never got to meet)were KIA, one during W.W.II and one in Korea. Since then we have not lost any family members, Thank God, because we have had others serve since then. We know what happened to both of my Uncles. One was buried at sea, the other one's body was sent home. Because of some people I have met that don't have the answers about what happened to their family members I'm going to say it is easier to deal with death. I've been going to Skidmore, Missouri's Freedom Fest every year for several years now. It is an annual event held the first weekend after Labor Day to honor Veterans. That is where I met Chuck and Mary Schantag of the P.O.W. Network (www.pownetwork.org) and found out that we have left soldiers behind (unaccounted for) after every conflict we have ever been involved in. I feel our government owes it to the families of the missing to find out what happened to their loved ones. Bring their remains home, and I don't mean monkey or dog bones. Show them proof of death. If they are still alive and being held hostage, Bring Them Home, no matter what it takes. Even if the country holding them is supposed to be our friend. If you are interested in POW/MIA issues there are some sites you should check out, http://www.pownetwork.org/
http://www.aiipowmia.com/inter.html
http://www.usvetdsp.com/
they will give you some ideas about how you can help POW/MIA's and their families.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

It's hard to say which would be worse. If they were missing in action and made it home, of course that would be better. But, if they were just missing... Knowing they were dead would be preferable to not knowing. Even if the death was gruesome, at least you'd know.

5:48 AM  
Blogger Katherine Thayer said...

If you have a father, brother, son that go to war... expect the unexpected. They could become POW, MIA or the worst "death". All we can do is pray for their safety.

2:07 AM  

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