MICHAEL D. BENGE
Michael D. Benge was born in Denver, Colorado on August 6, 1935. He served in the Marines from 1956-1959.
He joined the International Voluntary Services (a forerunner of the Peace Corps), and served in Viet Nam from 1963-65. In 1965, he joined the United States Agency for International Development, and served as an economic development officer in the Central Highlands of South Viet Nam. While serving in that capacity, he was captured by the North Vietnamese while attempting to rescue four Americans in a village that was occupied by a North Vietnamese Battalion.
He was held in numerous camps in South Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and North Viet Nam. He spent 27 months in solitary confinement and one year in a "black box." For efforts in rescuing eleven Americans before capture, he received the State Department's highest award for heroism for rescuing 11 Americans prior to his capture. He was received a second award for valor. While serving in South Viet Nam, he also received three medals from the Government of South Viet Nam for his work in public administration, public health, and ethnic minority affairs. And he received several letters of commendation for his work in Vietnam. He also speaks both Vietnamese and Rhade, the major ethnic minority dialect in Viet Nam.
After his release in 1973 during "Operation Homecoming," while on medical leave, he returned to Viet Nam and continued his work with the Ministry of Ethnic Minorities.
He presently resides in Virginia, and continues to be very active in POW/MIA affairs, and other South East Asian political issues.