Mike Benge was a foreign service officer working for the Agency for International Development when he was captured by the North Vietnamese during TET 1968.
At that time he had served in Vietnam for five years, working with the Montagnards in the highlands. He spoke fluent Vietnamese and Rhade, a Montagnard dialect.
He was a POW from 31 January 1968 until his release in during Operation Homecoming in 1973.
For his efforts in rescuing several Americans prior to capture, he received the State Department's highest award for heroism and a second one for valor.
He also received three of South Viet Nam's highest medals for civilians.
Mike returned to Vietnam as a volunteer after his release to continue his work with the Montagnards until the fall of South Vietnam to the communists in 1975.
Mike earned a BA from Oregon State University before going to Vietnam and a Masters Degree from the University of the Philippines after his release.