Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017 12:21pm
  • Business

Since last Veteran’s Day, Ken Burns’ in-depth documentary on the Vietnam War has aired. It is a powerful reminder of an unpopular war in which many baby boomers fought and died. It also prompts memories of the brutal treatment of American POWs and 1,350 who were listed as missing in action after the war ended. Some remain lost today.

Among the 571 American prisoners released in the winter of 1973 was U.S. Army Maj. Ed Carlson, whose last assignment was senior Army adviser to the Washington National Guard. Carlson, a 29-year veteran, was captured near the end of the war. He was held in a jungle camp along the Mekong River. He was a captive for 312 days.

Carlson grew up in San Lorenzo, California, and was commissioned as an artillery officer upon graduation from San Jose State in 1963. He served two tours in Vietnam.

In early April 1972, Carlson was heading home after completing his second stint. He was an artillery adviser to the South Vietnamese army. He drove 90 miles from Loc Ninh to Saigon and turned in his gear.

The only thing standing between him and his family back home was an optional appreciation dinner at Loc Ninh with his South Vietnamese counterparts. Out of loyalty, Carlson helicoptered back, but the dinner never happened.

Just after the Huey dropped him off, 20,000 North Vietnamese assaulted the base cutting off supplies and reinforcements. After a fierce two-day battle, direct air support from helicopter gunships and fighter jets was lifted despite the pilots’ objections.

The base was quickly seized and Carlson and four other Americans were captured, put in tiny wooden cages and moved deep into the jungle. Carlson was suffering from chest wounds.

During their initial interrogation, they believed they would be executed. North Vietnamese guards put AK-47s to their heads and ordered them to talk. They never did.

Carlson’s weight dropped from 185 to 135 pounds. There were no medications and his wounds were crudely treated.

Fortunately, Carlson’s captivity came at the end of the war after word reached home exposing the brutal torture at prison camps in North Vietnam.

After reuniting with his family, Carlson returned to active duty. He retired in Gig Harbor with his wife, Nancy. Col. Ed Carlson died from cancer in 1999 and now rests with other veterans in Tahoma National Cemetery.

Ed Carlson’s story is unique, but not unusual. Over the centuries, millions of our veterans have been seriously wounded, died or lost in war. They are men and women that we honor on Nov. 11.

Carlson was a fine soldier, family man and patriotic American. He served at a time when American flags were burned in our streets and those wearing military uniforms were excoriated.

Today, there is a new respect for our military men and women. They are America’s finest and we are thankful for them, their families and their service.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

Screenshot
WA Democrats consider new tax on billionaires

Plan could raise $5 billion from fewer than 100 taxpayers. Detractors fear it could drive Washington’s wealthiest out of state.

Last summer, people took advantage of the outdoor dining along First Avenue between Gowe and Titus streets in downtown Kent. In Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Photo courtesy of Kent Downtown Partnership
Restaurant reprieve: State to relax some indoor restrictions

On Monday, area restaurants and certain entertainment venues may resume indoor service, the governor said.

Stock photo
State Senate passes $1.7 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief

Targets relief to the most affected businesses; helps low-wage workers by raising their benefits

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a call to action when a… Continue reading

737 MAX 7 Reveal - February 5, 2018. File photo
Boeing fined $2.5 billion for deceiving aircraft safety regulators

The Boeing Company has agreed to pay the Department of Justice over… Continue reading

Stock photo
State Department of Commerce awards grants to more than 7,800 small businesses

Newest $100 million grant round prioritized restaurants, fitness centers