As conditions in South Viet Nam deteriorated rapidly during Holy Week, most missionaries there were reported to be safe, and they and other church people were helping in the vast effort to feed and resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Seven missionaries and a child, however, were presumed to be in the hands of the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese invaders. They are:
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Johnson, both 39, of Hamilton, Ontario (Christian and Missionary Alliance); Richard and Lillian Phillips, 45 and 43, of Bloomington, Minnesota (CMA); Mrs. Archie Mitchell, 54, of Bly, Oregon (CMA); and John and Carolyn Miller and their five-year-old daughter, of Allentown, Pennsylvania (Wycliffe Bible Translators).
All were at Ban Me Thuot in the central highlands, where the CMA operates a leprosarium and hospital. The Johnsons fled into the jungle at the outset of the attack on the town early last month and still had not been heard from as of March 26. The others, along with one or two other foreign civilians, had reportedly sought shelter in the compound of the International Commission for Control and Supervision as fierce fighting raged through the area. Radio contact with the group was lost on March 14.
North Vietnamese sources, in replying to inquiries about the missionaries, said no harm would come to civilians genuinely engaged in humanitarian work, according to a U. S. State Department source.
Mrs. Mitchell’s husband was kidnapped by the Viet Cong from Ban Me Thuot in the Tet Offensive of 1962. Two others taken with Mitchell at that time were Elinor Ardel Vietti, a doctor from Houston, and Mennonite worker Daniel Gerber of Dalton, Ohio. Gerber is presumed dead; Mitchell and Dr. Vietti are listed as missing. Mission leaders say privately ...1
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