After enduring a traumatic childhood and two years in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Tom Faunce made an oath to spend the rest of his life helping those in need. Four decades later, he discovers a mysterious man in Southeast Asia claiming to be an American Special Forces soldier listed as 'Killed In Action.' Working against government forces trying to cover up the story, Tom struggles to prove the lost soldier's identity and reunite him with his family.
A new documentary called Unclaimed claims to introduce the world to former Army Sergeant John Robertson, lost over Vietnam in 1968 and left behind for over four decades.
The Toronto Star reports:
Special Forces Green Beret Master Sgt. John Hartley Robertson had forgotten how to speak English over the 44 years since he was left behind in the Vietnam War. But he never forgot that he was a father, husband and an American soldier, born in Alabama, shot down over Laos in a 1968 classified mission.
Had Hollywood told the story of the discovery of a long-forgotten soldier, found miraculously still alive in Vietnam after surviving a horrific helicopter attack and crash, it would have involved a dramatic and dangerous jungle rescue followed by a homecoming parade.
Instead, in Emmy-winning Edmonton filmmaker Michael Jorgensen’s documentary Unclaimed, we meet a slightly stooped, wiry 76-year-old man living in a remote village in south-central Vietnam who trembles with frustration or pounds his forehead when he is unable to remember his birthday or his American children’s names. He is only able to speak Vietnamese.
Unclaimed has its world premiere at Toronto’s 20th Hot Docs festival on April 30.
Robertson says he was confined to a bamboo cage in the jungle by North Vietnamese captors and, accused of being a CIA spy, was tortured for a year. Confused and badly injured, he was released and married the Vietnamese nurse who helped care for him. He assumed the name of her dead husband. They had children.
The filmmaker struggled with roadblocks along the way from the military -- especially when it came to contacting Robertson’s family -- to be convinced that, as one high-placed government source told him, “It’s not that the Vietnamese won’t let him (Robertson) go; it’s that our government doesn’t want him.”
There is also a video interview with Michael Jorgensen on the Toronto Star's website, here,