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Prisoners Of War

During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn’t for captured enemy fighters, it was for American soldiers. These were men who had broken military law. And there were a lot of them. As the unpopular war dragged on, discipline frayed and soldiers started to rebel.

By the summer of 1968, over half the men in Long Binh Jail were locked up on AWOL charges. Some were there for more serious crimes, others for small stuff, like refusing to get a haircut. The stockade had become extremely overcrowded. Originally built to house 400 inmates, it became crammed with over 700 men, more than half African American.

On August 29th, 1968, the situation erupted. Fifty years later, we’re bringing you that story.

To hear a clean, censored version of this story click here.

Read more about the uprising on NPR’s Code Switch blog.


This story was produced by Sarah Kate Kramer, with Joe Richman and Nellie Gilles. It was edited by Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. Thanks to Gerald F. Goodwin, whose New York Times op-ed led us to this story, and to historian Kimberley L. Phillips. Also thanks to Thomas Watson of the 720th MP Reunion Association and History Project for sharing the Military’s CID Report; and David Zeiger of Displaced Films and and James Lewes of the GI Press Project for sharing photographs of the stockade with us.

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