David Hawkins POW
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The American POW who chose China

At the end of the Korean War, thousands of prisoners from both sides were faced with a choice, whether to return home or remain with their captors. David Hawkins was one of a handful of American GIs who chose to go to China.

David Hawkins was just 17 years old when he was wounded and captured in Korea. He was held prisoner in a camp the Americans dubbed "Death Valley" for more than 3 years.

"I don't think it ever occurred to the US or the Army that there would be GIs who would choose to go somewhere other than their own country," Mr Hawkins says, more than six decades after he fought Communist Korean and Chinese soldiers in the frozen mud along the 38th Parallel.

When he returned to the US after three years studying and working in China he was labelled a turncoat and dishonourably discharged from the US military.

He explained why he chose China when he appeared on the Mike Wallace Interview in 1957.

The full interview can be viewed here.


  • 27 Oct 2011