May 14, 2009 by Gsmith
The American intruder described by one member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s staff as “a nutty fellow” was John Yettaw, 53, a Mormon who reportedly told Burmese exiles in Thailand he was writing a “faith-based” book on heroism.
Before he set out, he photographed himself wearing homemade flippers, which he used along with lashed-together plastic containers as flotation aids, to make the mile-long swim across Inya lake.
He was identified by US media as a Vietnam veteran – he would have been 19 at the end of the war in 1975 – and a Mormon who said he had come to her house to pray with her.
The Washington Post said little was known about Yettaw but reported the official Burmese government newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, which gave his home as Falcon, Missouri, and said he had arrived in Burma on a tourist visa on 2 May.
Among possessions confiscated by the authorities were a black flashlight, folding pliers, a camera and Burmese and US currency.
A Burmese opposition magazine, Irrawaddy, reported that he met with exiles in Thailand before entering Burma and told them of his plans to write a book.
Time traced a John W Yettaw residing in the Ozarks whose son, also described as a Mormon, died two years ago.