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Divisive Sampley Dies

Ted Sampley, 62, a former Green Beret in Vietnam who championed the cause of imprisoned and missing veterans from that war, died May 12 near his home in North Carolina from complications after heart surgery.

As a fighter for veterans, Sampley was relentless for decades. But his legacy was clouded by his political attacks on presidential candidates and distinguished war veterans John Kerry and John McCain. His efforts to promote the causes of American veterans took a distant backseat to his hack work for an ugly fringe movement that sought to tar both men as unpatriotic.

He called McCain a "'Manchurian candidate," somehow brainwashed by his captors when McCain was a POW in Vietnam. He tried to link Kerry to actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda, creating the impression that Kerry, a distinguished Vietnam War veteran who became a war opponent, was conspiring with the enemy in Hanoi to undermine American servicemen.

In the last presidential election, Sampley attacked Barack Obama as a closet Muslim -- and his efforts were picked up by others who hoped to profit through the most despicable sort of prejudice and innuendo.

There will be few mainstream tributes to the man. McCain once called Sampley "one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter." He added in another interview, "I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit. He is dishonorable, an enemy of the truth, and despite his claims, he does not speak for or represent the views of all but a few veterans."

By Adam Bernstein |  May 14, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
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De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Of his kookie causes, though:

The Atlantic Monthly showed 15 years ago what McCain and Kerry found: the couple of MIAs from the Vietnam “conflict” were lost at sea, off aircraft carriers. There were and are no POWs left over from our presence in Indochina.

The real issue is that some Americans cannot accept that we fought and lost an illegal war. If they cared about MIAs, they’d look to the thousands from Korea, World War II, the First World War, and the Civil War.

Posted by: Hans1924 | May 15, 2009 7:56 AM

Wow Hans! You personify the expression "ignorance is bliss" ...

Fact 1) There are more than 1700 MIA from Vietnam who are still unaccounted for; the overwhelming majority are those lost or captured on the ground.

Fact 2) The 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs stated, "There is evidence, moreover that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming …”

Fact 3) They are looking for MIAs from all conflicts. The DoD has devoted an entire agency to this effect, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO)

I am just amazed ... and by the way, if it were one of your loved ones who was photographed in captivity by the Vietnamese and later never returned, I doubt you would consider it a ""kookie cause" - walk a mile in their shoes, Hans. You may actually learn something.

Read the story of David Hrdlicka as told by his family

Posted by: powwarrior | May 16, 2009 6:15 PM

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