BY ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
There are 86,500 United States military veterans who have been missing in action since WWII.
About 1,000 of those veterans are from Oregon.
Sixteen are from Bend, including Dollie Raymond’s brother, Bennie Dexter, who was Oregon’s first Vietnam War prisoner of war.
“He went ahead and joined the Air Force, was going to go on and get his college degree in the Air Force and of course, Vietnam happened. So he was sent to Vietnam in September of ’65,” Raymond said. “They ended up in Pleiku in April, and he was taking Mother’s Day that same year so just a month. They’d only been in that area for a month. Back then they came in a government vehicle, an Air Force vehicle. So here came two Air Force officers to my parent’s home, I wasn’t there. And they told my mother that Bennie was missing.”
Dollie’s family has heard stories that her brother had been taken by five armed Viet Cong guerrillas to what they believed was a training camp.
“It wasn’t a prisoner of war camp, it was a training camp so they had the camp cook guarding him. Well he tried to escape three times, and on the third attempt, they shot and killed him,” Raymond said.
Despite hearing of a possible grave site and an excavation of an area they suspected Bennie’s body was buried in 2016, his remains have never been recovered.
Even after 53 years, Dollie says she’ll never stop looking for her brother.
“I can’t tell you, I mean, I’ve pretty much come to peace, I know he’s not alive. But the closure for my family. If we had remains, trust me baby, you would know about it! The whole town of Bend would have a whole big party,” she said.
On Friday morning, the Bend Heroes Foundation held a POW/MIA ceremony for Bennie and others like him.
Just this week, Governor Kate Brown signed a law, designating U-S Highway 26 as the POW/MIA Memorial Highway.
The sign was unveiled during the ceremony.
Dollie says ceremonies like this are important for future generations.
“We need to keep the public educated, they don’t know about Vietnam, they don’t know. You know they may have read in history books about WWII or Korea, but they don’t understand that there are still people missing and there are still families out there without closure,” she said. “It’s important to me to make sure that people know and don’t forget.”