Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Handwritten letters to loved ones stolen from the body of U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty in 1969 during the Vietnam War will be returned to his family, as part of historic artifact swap between the United States and Vietnam.
Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phuong Quang Thanh returned Flaherty's letters to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In return, Panetta gave Quang Thanh a diary written by a Vietnamese soldier that was taken by a U.S. Marine. That diary was able to be returned to the Vietnamese government, in part, with the assistance of the PBS television program "History Detectives."
After Flaherty’s letters where taken from his body, they were used for Anti-American propaganda. However, Vietnamese Senior Colonel Nguyen Phu Dat held on to the letters and worked throughout the years to get them returned to Flaherty's family.