On January 27, 1973, the American War in Vietnam was officially concluded with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, and the last American military unit left the country in March of that year. When the Prisoners of War (POWs) were released home, it was estimated that about 2,500 servicemen were reported missing in action. As of 2015, more than 1,600 of them were still unaccounted for.
The United States Department of Defense recorded 687 soldiers returning to their homeland after the war of the missing-in-action, and North Vietnam acknowledges that 55 Americans died during captivity. That still doesn’t explain what happened to the rest of them, but it’s possible that many are deceased, and their bodies were never recovered.
POWs Still in Vietnam Conspiracy Theory
Post-war, a POW/MIA activist group said there was a conspiracy theory that the US and Vietnamese governments have an agreement to cover up the remaining missing soldiers by keeping them captive overseas. This grew with mentions in media and popular culture, such as a storyline in 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II.
In the early 1990s the Senate formed the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. An investigation was conducted, led by former senators John McCain, John Kerry, and Bob Smith, and no convincing evidence was discovered to prove this to be true.
There are no known living POWs left in Vietnam from the American War. Many veterans and survivors of those terrible years have returned to the country to visit and pay respects to their peers left behind. A few have even returned to live there.