Captain Alan R. Trent - POW, MIA, or KIA?
Where are you Captain Alan R. Trent? You spoke to me this morning, as you do so often when you’re wondering if we have forgotten. I promise, we haven’t forgotten, in spite of how it seems. We will never forget, not until the last question is answered and you have all come home.
You were 29 years old when they declared you a POW or MIA or KIA. They didn't know what you were, or did they? They know they didn't find you and they know they haven’t brought you home. It’s been 38 years since the war in Vietnam ended. Your family still doesn't know where or what you are but the US government has you listed as “XX – Presumptive Finding of Death”. What does that mean?
You have no grave, only your name etched on a long, black granite wall with over 58,000 others. There is a simple cross etched in the stone by your name. It tells the world that you are still missing. It’s ironic isn't it, that the cross was the symbol chosen to reflect how we turned our backs and left you there.
Is it bad that I sometimes hope you were killed when your F4 went down in Cambodia? It sounds bad, but I can’t bear the thought of you being a prisoner for all these years. I’d rather think you were buried in that acidic soil that is destroying whatever remains might be recovered. They say there’s not much time left before the soil will destroy all traces of any DNA that might help families find closure.
If you are still a prisoner, then I am even more proud of you. Some who cooperated did come home. What secrets did they tell to buy their freedom? If you are still alive, then you are the bravest man I know. It means you didn't sell out a country that turned its back on you. That’s huge in my book.
You know, some of your friends and colleagues returned in flag-draped caskets. They have a diamond by their name on the wall. Go figure.
Some came home with broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken minds. Those who came home alive were treated so badly. I’m almost glad you didn't have to endure that. They served our country so proudly; sacrificed so much, and we spit on them and left them to fend for themselves. Many are still living in the shadows of homelessness and PTSD, or, behind the dark and dismal confines of a VA Hospital - forgotten. It is a scar on our nation that will never be healed until you are all back home and taken care of.
Your family has done okay, but it’s been really hard not knowing. They were so proud of you that they have walked tall and proud in your absence but they never gave up, not for a second. You would be proud of them too.
Well Captain Trent, I just wanted to spend some time with you this morning. I still wear your bracelet and look forward to the day I can put it away forever. I know there will be no good news at the end of this journey but we owe it to you to put a circle around that cross on the wall. That’s what they do when remains are identified. I hope you know that there are still many who care and are holding them accountable. They wear buttons, fly flags, and stand in solidarity with other mothers, and brothers, wives and sons, husbands and daughters, fathers and sisters who still wait for answers. They will not stop until every family has an answer.
You get some rest Captain Trent. There’s still one more flight to make.
In memory of Captain Alan (Al) R. Trent, born May 22. 1940 and shot down inside Cambodia on May 13, 1970 while flying a scramble alert mission in an F4D Phantom II. He was accompanied by his co-pilot, 1st Lt. Eric J. Hubert. The crash was witnessed by other pilots and debris was scattered across 0.3 miles. In November of 1973, both pilots were declared “dead, bodies not recovered”.
Captain Alan Trent served in the 480th Tactical Fighter Wing, 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron, United States Air Force at Phu Cat Airbase in South Vietnam. He was born on May 22, 1940 in Wadsworth, Ohio. His name is located on Panel 10W Line 037 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Map of the Crash Site
Captain Alan R. Trent's sister writes about the impact on families when a loved one is left behind in war.
- TogetherWeServed - Capt Alan Robert Trent
Airforce.Togetherweserved.com - Shadow Box Profile of Capt Alan Robert Trent
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Read More About The Issue
Vietnam-Era POW/MIA Database - Federal Research Division, Library of Congress
The National League of POW/MIA Families
- Bio, Trent, Alan R.
- National Alliance of Families
National Alliance of POW/MIA Families
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Vietnam Wall) : Fold3
Explore the Vietnam Wall and leave a tribute, a story or photograph to any of the 58,256 names of those killed or missing in the Vietnam War.