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Members of the United States armed forces were held as prisoners of war (POWs) in significant numbers during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973. Unlike U.S. service members captured in World War II and the Korean War, who were mostly enlisted troops, the overwhelming majority of Vietnam-era POWs were officers, most of them Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps airmen; a relatively small number of Army enlisted personnel were also captured, as well as one enlisted Navy seaman who fell overboard from a naval vessel. Most U.S. prisoners were captured and held in North Vietnam by the North Vietnamese Army; a much smaller number were captured in the south and held by the National Liberation Front (Việt Cộng). A handful of U.S. civilians were also held captive during the war.
Beginning in late 1965 the application of torture against U.S. prisoners became severe.