GODWIN, SOLOMON HUGHEY

Name: Solomon Hughey Godwin
Rank/Branch: Chief Warrant Office 3/US Marine Corps 
Unit: 1st CIT, Headquarters Battalion, 
1st Marine Division 
Date of Birth: 24 January 1935 (Hot Springs, AR)
Home of Record: Hot Springs, AR
Date of Loss: 05 February 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162718N 1073520E (YD764209) 
Click coordinates to view (4) maps
Status in 1973: Prisoner of War 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 

REMARKS:
 

SYNOPSIS:  Tet, the Chinese lunar New Year, is the principle Vietnamese holiday. In many ways, it is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and everyone's birthday rolled into one. All sides in the Vietnam War called a truce during this annual three-day holiday. However, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong regularly violated it.

In January 1968, military intelligence reports warned of a large-scale communist offensive to be initiated in the northern provinces of South Vietnam sometime around Tet, but the intelligence information gathered about pending attacks was so plentiful that they were considered commonplace and largely ignored. Moreover, such an attack was expected before or after the three-day holiday period, not during it.

More than any other city, Hue embodied the Vietnamese culture, history, traditions and sense of National identity. Both sides knew that the loss of the city would signal the loss of the war. Unfortunately, no one realized the strength of NVA forces or the determination with which they intended to take and hold Hue. At first the Americans counterattacked at Hue with a lone company, then a single battalion and finally three battalions for the immense task of clearing the dug-in enemy force of seven battalions from the south side of the city.

Because of his duties as a Marine Corps intelligence specialist, then WO1 Solomon H. Godwin was allowed to live in the city of Hue. At 1400 hours on 5 February 1968, as the massive Tet Offensive raged throughout Hue, WO1 Godwin was captured by communist forces from his home located on the west side of the city, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

As was the case with other Americans captured by the NVA, Solomon Godwin was immediately moved to a POW camp hidden in the dense jungle covered hills west of Hue. The camp was nicknamed "Runamuck 1" by the Americans incarcerated there. As a trained intelligence specialist, WO1 Godwin knew the communists would attempt to extract additional military information from him so he tried to conceal this fact from his captors. However, once the communists uncovered his identity shortly after arriving in camp, they separated him, along with a CIA intelligence officer assigned as an advisor to MACV, Eugene "Gene" Weaver, from the other prisoners. Mr. Weaver's capture on 1 February during the early stages of the battle for Hue was filmed by the NVA. That film was later shown on a CBS evening news broadcast.

Some of the POW camps in South Vietnam were actually way stations the VC used for a variety of reasons. Others were regular POW camps. Regardless of size and primary function, conditions in the VC run camps frequently included the prisoners' being tied at night to their bamboo bunks anchored by rope to a post in their small bamboo shelters. In others they were held in bamboo cages, commonly referred to as tiger cages, and in yet other camps the dense jungle itself provided the bars to their cage. There was rarely enough food and water to sustain them, and as a result, the Americans suffered from a wide variety of illnesses in addition to their injuries and wounds.

The fact that WO1 Godwin had been captured was not immediately known. Because of this, Solomon Godwin was originally listed as Missing in Action. It was not until three weeks later that the US military learned differently. At that time an American trained Vietnamese intelligence agent, who had also been captured in Hue and held in the same camp as the Americans; escaped captivity, made his way back to allied control and reported on the POW camp, the other prisoners in it and his recent experiences. At the time the Marine Corps learned his true fate, Solomon Godwin's status was upgraded from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War.

Gene Weaver was released on 16 March 1973 during Operation Homecoming. In his debriefing, Mr. Weaver reported that he and Solomon Godwin were held together in the same camp until late July 1968 when the guards broke camp and moved the prisoners north. Mr. Weaver, recounted that on 25 July, as they were being marched to a permanent camp in North Vietnam, WO1 Godwin, who was malnourished, suffered from malaria and had acutely infected feet, died and was buried along the trail.

According to Gene Weaver, a Vietnamese guard ordered him to sign a document written in Vietnamese. He was told by the guard that the document verified WO1 Godwin's date and place of death on 25 July 1968. Whether or not this document actually outlined those facts is not known since Gene Weaver could not read Vietnamese. Further, he did not know if the document specified where his friend was supposed to have been buried. Ironically, WO1 Solomon Godwin's name has never appeared on any list provided by the Vietnamese as prisoner who died in captivity. Likewise, neither does his name appear on the US Government's April 1991 Last Known Alive list.

In 1987, Gen. John Vessey, US government POW/MIA emissary to Vietnam, provided classified information pertaining to Solomon Godwin to the Vietnamese in the hope they would either return his remains or be more forthcoming with information about his fate. To date the Hanoi regime denies any knowledge of WO1 Godwin.

If Solomon Godwin died of illness as reported by Gene Weaver, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if the report of his death was a sadistic ruse constructed by the communists for some unknown reason, his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way, the communists could return him any time they had the desire to do so.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military personnel and civilians alike were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances, and each was prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country so proudly served.