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Local Veterans Criticize Cohen's Visit to Vietnam

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RALEIGH — Local Vietnam veterans are questioning the motives of U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. Cohen began a three-day tour of Vietnam Monday -- the first visit by a U.S. defense secretary since the war ended 25 years ago.

Cohen got a firsthand look at a search for the remains of a missing Navy pilot. Some veterans say the U.S. should focus on POWs and MIAs who could still be alive.

Bob Patrikios was 18 years old when he began three years of service in Vietnam in 1966. Patrikios believes Cohen's efforts to find the remains of American soldiers are misguided at best.

"Our government is more concerned with remains and digging up crash sites and recovering bones and bodies than actively pursuing what happened to these Americans," says Patrikios.

Patrikios believes the CIA has evidence there are still several hundred POWs alive in Vietnam, yet the American government refuses to take action against the communist regime.

His claims are echoed by grassroots activists across the country.

There are 2,000 American servicemen still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. Forty-eight of those men are from North Carolina. They are remembered on the first Saturday of each month at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Raleigh.

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 Credits

Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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