East Tennessee POW weighs in on Bowe Bergdahl coming home

East Tennessee POW weighs in on Bowe Bergdahl coming home

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Capt. William Robinson, originally from North Carolina, was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for seven and a half years, physically and mentally tortured, and put in solitary confinement for six months. Capt. William Robinson, originally from North Carolina, was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for seven and a half years, physically and mentally tortured, and put in solitary confinement for six months.
"If it was such an honorable thing, why was it done in the dark of night and we didn't even trust our own Congress to know? This is ridiculous," Robinson said about Bowe Bergdahl. "If it was such an honorable thing, why was it done in the dark of night and we didn't even trust our own Congress to know? This is ridiculous," Robinson said about Bowe Bergdahl.
By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

MADISONVILLE (WATE) - The longest-held enlisted POW in American history lives right here in East Tennessee. Capt. William Robinson, originally from North Carolina, was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for seven and a half years, physically and mentally tortured, and put in solitary confinement for six months. He was held for a time at the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison in a cell next to now Sen. John McCain.

Billy Robinson was just 22 when his helicopter was shot down over North Vietnam. His captors took a picture of him and turned it into a stamp celebrating their victories.

"I just had faith I would survive the whole ordeal," Robinson said.

He partially credits the length of time he was held.

"We had pretty well, after four or five years, accepted what was going on and spent our days preparing for the future," he said.

Plus he was being held with other American soldiers, not an advantage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had.

"We were very fortunate we had people around us who cared about us. He was all alone," Robinson said.

Robinson says it was right to bring Bergdahl home, but the circumstances bother him.

"If it was such an honorable thing, why was it done in the dark of night and we didn't even trust our own Congress to know? This is ridiculous," he said.

As for reports Bergdahl may have willing left his post in Afghanistan, Robinson says, "If he stands up as a man and says I made a mistake, then we as a nation know how to forgive."
 
But he says Bergdahl should be investigated by the military, just as he was.

"Every one of us had to be evaluated when we got back as the whether we served our country honorably," Robinson said.

As for America's policy not to negotiate with terrorists, Robinson doesn't have much respect for this administration.

"They'll negotiate with anybody for their own political gains," he said.

Robinson says he was able to talk to his family just a few hours after his release and saw them immediately when he was flown back to the States three days later. But he won't judge Bergdahl for not having spoken to his family in the two weeks after his rescue. He says it's a personal decision for each POW and everyone deals differently with reintegration.
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