Jury selection began Monday in the court-martial of Marine Pfc. Robert R. Garwood, charged with joining forces with the communists while a prisoner of war in Vietnam. A panel of at least five marines will hear evidence in the trial, which is expected to last two months. An eight-month pretrial hearing ended last week.
Private Garwood was a jeep driver with only a few days left on his tour of duty when he disappeared outside Da Nang in 1965. Fourteen years later he contacted a Finnish businessman in Hanoi and told him he wanted to return to America.
When he arrived home in March 1979, several survivors of tiny jungle POW camps said Garwood had joined the communist army and helped interrogate, indoctrinate, and stand guard over fellow Americans.
Private Garwood -- the only Vietnam-era soldier charged with desertion and collaboration with the enemy -- has pleased innocent to the charges. He has said little about his years behind enemy lines except that he did only what was needed to stay alive.It is likely, however, that he will testify during the trial.