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Pow's View Of 'Hanoi'

April 04, 1987

Michael Wilmington's review of "The Hanoi Hilton" does total injustice to Lionel Chetwynd's accurate and descriptive portrayal of POW life in North Vietnam (" 'Hanoi': Cardboard Heroes, Villains," March 27).

I spent 7 1/2 years a POW and visited the movie set several times during filming. I never ceased to be amazed at the realistic detail throughout the production. Chipped porcelain dishes, bland food, exact clothing, buckets for toilets, weathered buildings, everything exactly like it was, brought back painful memories.

It has to be extremely difficult to condense seven or eight years of POW Life into a two-hour movie, but Chetwynd did capture the emotions, tribulations and experiences of life as it was.

For critic Wilmington to compare our experience to "Hogan's Heroes" is a cruel insult, not only to those who endured the experience but also to our fellow POWs who died while imprisoned.

Wilmington's inability to extract the intent of the film, to tell the story as it actually was, is clearly evident.

Since our release on Feb. 12, 1973, acquaintances frequently ask about POW life in Hanoi. With this film, they can vividly see the true experience, as it is an outstanding depiction of our incarceration. Just as "Platoon" told the story of the war down South, "Hilton" tells the story of our war with our captors. Here is a movie I can strongly recommend to family, relatives and friends.

DAVID R. WHEAT

Upland

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