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Eleanor Ardel Vietti

Name: Eleanor Ardel Vietti
Rank/Branch: Civilian - Surgeon
Unit: Christian & Missionary Alliance
Date of Birth: 05 November 1927 (Ft. Worth TX)
Home City: Houston TX
Date of Loss: 30 May 1962
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 123250N 1075927E (ZU250888)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: Rev. Archie E. Mitchell; Daniel A. Gerber
(both captured)

SYNOPSIS: Ardel Vietti was a twin and was born on November 5, 1927 in Ft. Worth, Texas. Her father was a geologist and provided Ardel, her sister and brother with a comfortable youth, as well as the experience of living in South America for several years. Ardel attended Rice Institute, Nyack Missionary College (one summer), and attended medical school at the University of Texas.  Following her residency, she applied for foreign service with C&MA and was certified for appointment to the Ban Me Thuot Leprosarium in Vietnam.

The Ban Me Thuot Leprosarium was located in dense jungle terrain in Darlac Province, South Vietnam, near the provincial capitol of Ban Me Thuot. The Leprosarium was jointly financed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Mennonite Central Committee and American Leprosy Missions, Inc. There were 56 Alliance church groups in the areas outlying Ban Me Thuot in 1962.

The Leprosarium had a staff of nine, including Rev. Archie Mitchell, the administrative officer; Dr. Ardel Vietti, a surgeon, Daniel A. Gerber, and nurses, Misses Craig, Deets, Kingsbury and Wilting. There were two others on staff; also, the Mitchell's four children lived at the Leprosarium.

Late afternoon on Wednesday, May 30, 1962, a group of about 12 armed Viet Cong entered the Leprosarium compound and abducted Dan Gerber, Dr. Vietti and Rev. Mitchell. The nurses were sternly lectured on their betrayal of the Vietnamese people and assured that they deserved immediate death, but were not molested or abducted. Mrs. Mitchell and her four children were not harmed. The VC ransacked all the buildings for anything they could use - linens, medicines, clothing and surgical instruments. About 10:00 p.m., the Viet Cong finally left, taking their three prisoners with them.

When the three were captured, the U.S. pledged all of its resources in order to see that everything possible was done to get them back safely in 1962.

At the time, U.S. and South Vietnamese intelligence discovered their probable location, but were never able to rescue the three. Reports have continued to surface on them through the years since 1962. Some of the members of their families believe them to be still alive.

Now, 25 years later, Gerber, Vietti and Mitchell are still missing. They were not military personnel, nor were they engaged in highly paid jobs relating to the war. They were just there to help sick Vietnamese people. Although the U.S. has given the Vietnamese information on Gerber, Vietti and Mitchell, the Vietnamese deny any knowledge of them.