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There are two identified reasons that contributed to the loss of Planes and the loss of life and capture of U.S. pilots.

 

1. Those in the U.S. administration that knowingly gave information as a result of their policy determinations and authorized passing of information.

 

Vietnam - Why were so many planes shot down?
Ever wondered why so many of our aviators in Vietnam got shot down?
"The Secret War and Other Conflicts"   (Published 2014 by GENERAL PETE PIOTROWSKI ISBN 978-1-4931-6187-4 (Hardcover))
Following is a quote of much interest, from pages 246/247:
 "Nearly twenty years later, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk being interviewed by Peter Arnett on a CBC documentary called, "The Ten Thousand Day War".
 
    Mr Arnett asked, "It has been rumored that the United States provided the North Vietnamese government the names of the targets that would be bombed the following day.  Is there any truth to that allegation?"
    To everyone's astonishment and absolute disgust, the former Secretary responded, "Yes.  We didn't want to harm the North Vietnamese people, so we passed the targets to the Swiss embassy in Washington with instructions to pass them to the NVN government through their embassy in Hanoi."  As we watched in horror, Secretary Rusk went on to say, "All we wanted to do is demonstrate to the North Vietnamese leadership that we could strike targets at will, but we didn't want to kill innocent people. By giving the North Vietnamese advanced warning of the targets to be attacked, we thought they would tell the workers to stay home."
    No wonder all the targets were so heavily defended day after day!  The NVN obviously moved as many guns as they could overnight to better defend each target they knew was going to be attacked.  Clearly, many brave American Air Force and Navy fliers died or spent years in NVN prison camps as a direct result of being intentionally betrayed by Secretary Rusk and Secretary McNamara, and perhaps, President Johnson himself.
    I cannot think of a more duplicitous and treacherous act of American government officials.  Dean Rusk served as Secretary of State from January 21, 1961, through to January 20, 1969, under President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
    Mr. Peter Arnett opined that "this would be a treasonous act by anyone else."  A very sad revelation.

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Basic Airman to General: The Secret War & Other Conflicts: Lessons in Leadership & Life  – January 29, 2014 by General Piotrowski (Author)
The quote is on pages 246-247.  You can access book without buying it at the above link.

 

To make matters worse, it seems that, during the Vietnam War, the flight routes (Airways) were published and were strictly required to be maintained and were monitored for compliance by US aircraft.  If that is the case, the enemy may have known not only the sites and dates for the bombing targets but could have known the routes of the planes.

 

2.  The unauthorized passing of information/spying by a U.S. person during the period of 1967 and 1985.  

 

The individual was John Walker, Jr., who in the early years of his activity passed information to the Soviet Union who, in turn, passed information to the North Vietnamese that is said to have allowed Noth Vietnam to effectively engage the U.S. air operations.

The story of John Walker,J r. is incuded in the video presentation, Traitors Within - Spies Who Sold Out America.  Also, see the article written after his death, John A. Walker Jr., who led family spy ring, dies at 77 , Washington Post, August 30, 2014.

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