National Alliance of Families

For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen

+ World War II + Korea + Cold War + Vietnam + Gulf War +

BITS 'N' PIECES - March 20th, 1999

Dolores Apodaca Alfond

National Chairperson - (

Voice/Fax 425-881-1499

Lynn O'Shea

New York State Director - (

Voice/Fax 718-846-4350

Senators Request Official Change of Status for Gulf War POW/MIA Michael Speicher - the following is excerpted from an Associated Press article by Robert Burns - "Two senators asked Navy Secretary Richard Danzig on Friday to change the Pentagon's official "finding of death'' for a Navy pilot shot down in the opening hours of the 1991 Gulf War to "missing in action,'' reflecting evidence of doubt about whether he survived the crash. Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher of Jacksonville, Fla., went missing when his Navy F-18 Hornet was shot down on Jan. 16, 1991, in an air-to-air battle with an Iraqi fighter jet. He was the first American lost in the war and the last still unaccounted for."

"We believe that the justification for the finding of death determination in May 1991 is no longer valid and conclusive,'' Sens. Bob Smith, R-N.H., and Rod Grams, R-Minn., wrote in the letter to the Navy's top civilian leader..."

"In September 1998, following efforts by Smith and Grams to learn more about what the U.S. intelligence agencies knew of Speicher' fate, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was given a classified chronology of the intelligence agencies' activities on the matter."

"We strongly believe that the information contained therein supports the request we are making of you with this letter,'' Smith and Grams told Danzig. They did not cite any specific evidence, which is classified secret. The senators said they were informed on March 12 by the Defense Department's POW-Missing Personnel Office that its position on whether the available evidence indicates Speicher perished in the crash of his plane is ``we don't know.''

"In light of that, Speicher's status should be changed to missing in action -- ``a status that more accurately reflects the available evidence and provides a presumptive `benefit of the doubt' to Lt. Cmdr. Speicher,'' the letter said. "We owe nothing less to Lt. Cmdr. Speicher and his family,'' the senators wrote...."

"...Smith and Grams have said before that Pentagon officials initially told them there was no evidence to indicate that Speicher could have survived the crash. However, in May 1994 -- more than three years after Speicher went missing -- Pentagon officials indicated in a secret memorandum that a U.S. spy satellite had photographed a ``manmade symbol'' at the crash site earlier that year. Some military officers said they interpreted the symbol as a sign that the Navy pilot might have survived the crash. Speicher was the only American killed on Iraqi territory whose remains were not recovered."

"A plan was devised in 1994 to conduct a covert operation into Iraq to search the crash site for clues to Speicher's fate, but it was scrapped in December 1994 by Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The general ruled that the risk of casualties was too high to justify the secret mission."

"In 1995, U.S. crash site specialists from the Defense Department, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, entered Iraq with President Saddam Hussein's permission. When they got to the crash site they found it had been excavated, The New York Times reported in December 1997."

"This account is the first believable story of the possibility of live American POW's in the LPRD that has been heard since 1975." So read the Source Comment on a heavily redacted report located in the National Archives among the records of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.

The subject of the report states: "Identification of Possible U.S. Prisoner of War Camp in Saravane Province, Lao People's Democratic Republic." The text reads:

"1. Circa march 1983, [redacted] a militia chief [ full line redacted] [half line redacted] claimed that there is a Prisoner of War (POW) Camp located at the foot of Ngoua Mountain (NCA), approximately 25 kilometers south of Kadon Village. According to [blank] there were 23 American prisoners of war (POW's) detained in the camp. Prior to 1975 the camp contained 25 American POW's, but two had since died. [Blank] said that Kadon Village is responsible for growing food for the camp and insisted that he had personally seen the POW's on numerous occasions while escorting food convoys to the camp. [Blank] added that the militia forces in Chavan Village (YB 2197) were actually responsible for security at the camp. [Redaction]

[Blank 2] escorted him to the top of Ngoua Mountain and pointed out the camp to him. According to [blank] the camp consisted of four buildings and was surrounded by a fence and a canal. [Blank 2] did no claim to see any of the POW's. both Chavan and Kadon Villages have been under the influence/control of the Communist Pathet Lao since circa 1954.)"

The cover memo, also heavily redacted, is addressed to the Assistant Vice Director For Collection Management, Department of Defense; Principal Advisor for Prisoner of War Missing In Action (International Security Affairs); Director, Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea Bureau for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Department of State. It reads, in part: "this very sensitive information is for your background use only. There will be no further distribution of this report and additional dissemination or extraction of this information requires prior approval from this Agency. DIA is authorized to pass this information to the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC.)"

"This account is the first believable story of the possibility of live American POW's in the LPRD that has been heard since 1975."

Who "this Agency" is, is anyone's guess. All markings to indicate the issuing agency have been redacted.

In June, Congress will debate the renewal of the Jackson Vanick Waiver as it applies to Vietnam. A waiver of Jackson Vanick would allow Vietnam a more favorable trade status. Last year, during Congressional hearings Senator John Kerry and Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson, spent two hours extolling Vietnamese cooperation on the POW/MIA issue and progress in the area of Human Rights. Based on this testimony and pressure from big business, congress voted for a waiver of the Jackson Vanick Amendment.

During this year's renewal debate we hope they remember two things.

1. Vietnam is not cooperating on the POW/MIA issue. Just because President Clinton certified Vietnamese full cooperation, doesn't mean it's true.

2. Vietnam's Human Rights record is abysmal. The following is excerpted from an Associated Press article by Paul Alexander march 1999 - "Vietnam issued a sharp rebuke Thursday to a U.N. report on religious freedom, saying it will no longer allow investigations into human-rights issues or religious affairs. The announcement came two days after U.N. investigator Abdelfattah Amor reported that Vietnam maintains elaborate controls over all religious groups to prevent the emergence of any organization that might rival the Communist Party..."

"While welcoming foreigners engaged in business and "humanitarian purposes," Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Sy Vuong Ha said outside investigators were not welcome. "Vietnam does not accept any individual or organization going to Vietnam with the intention of carrying out an investigation... because it interferes into Vietnam's internal affairs," he told reporters."

"The statement comes amid concern about a conservative backlash in the country. Dissident Nguyen Thanh Giang was arrested March 4 for allegedly possessing anti-communist documents, a move that some Western diplomats saw as a warning to authors of recent letters criticizing the party for alleged corruption."

"Amor said despite government guarantees of access to anyone he wanted to see, he was prevented from meeting some leaders of unsanctioned religions. Any religion not officially recognized by the Vietnamese government is considered superstition that must be stamped out. That includes unsanctioned sects of Buddhism and other religions...."

On Wednesday, March 17th, 1999, the Pentagon announced the identification of three Servicemen missing from the Vietnam War. Identified are: Navy Cmdr. John C. Mape of San Francisco, lost April 13, 1966 over North Vietnam. According to the Associated Press "Remains illegally excavated and removed from the site were confiscated by Vietnamese authorities in 1994 and given to U.S. officials. They turned out to be from Mape." Air Force Maj. John E. Bailey of Minneapolis, lost May 10th, 1966 over North Vietnam. His remains were recovered in August 1995, during a joint U.S. Vietnamese excavation. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John F. Hartzheim of Appleton, Wis. lost Feb. 27, 1968 over Laos. Remains were recovered during joint U.S. Lao investigations between 1994 and 1996.

World War II Remains Identified - From the Associated Press March 5th, 1999 - "The remains of three American servicemen missing in action from World War II have been identified and are being returned to their families in the United States for burial, the Pentagon said Friday. The three were identified as Maj. Frank H. Blakey, Millbrook, Ala.; 2nd Lt. John S. McConnon, Pittsburgh; and Tech. Sgt. Wayne O. Shaffner, Martinsville, Ill."

"McConnon and Shaffner were crew members aboard a B-24 Liberator shot down by German antiaircraft fire in Albania on Aug. 10, 1944. The plane was returning to a base in Italy after a bombing run over Romania when it came under attack."

"Blakey was commanding officer of the 305th Airdrome Squadron near Aitape, New Guinea, when he was last seen driving a jeep on June 10, 1944. The area -- now part of Papua New Guinea -- was under Japanese control at the time."

To our World War II and Vietnam families, we hold you in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time and hope that you now have the answers you have waited so long for.

mt-DNA Update - "...two studies reported in the journal Proceeding of the Royal Society discovered that using mitochondrial DNA to track genetic lineage isn't as accurate as scientists had assumed...."

"...Mitochondrial DNA was thought to be the best way to trace human evolution because researchers believed it was passed on virtually unchanged from mother to daughter. But research by Eyre-Walker and his colleagues and a team of researchers led by Erika Hagelberg of Cambridge University discovered that some mitochondrial DNA from the father also enters the egg and mixes with the maternal mitochondrial DNA...."

"...If mitochondrial DNA was solely inherited from the mother it would trace back to Eve..."

"In addition to pushing back the age of Eve, the finding makes the tracing of human evolution more difficult. Much of the work in human evolution has involved mitochondrial DNA, said Eyre-Walker, and the finding could cast doubt on some of it's validity."

"It is the first evidence of recombination between paternal and maternal mitochondrial DNA," he said. "It's going to take some time to work out exactly what the implications are."

Family Members, Veterans Organizations and Concerned Citizens, we need you on this one. Let's find out if Louis Mutta is X-656. If he is, let's bring him home! Contact Secretary of Defense William Cohen, at the Dept. of Defense, The Pentagon, Washington D.C. 20301 - Call 703-695-5261 or Fax 703-697-9080. Ask that Plot M, Row 5, Grave 1336 at the United States Military Cemetery, Tanggok, Korea be exhumed for the purpose of an identification review. Let's help the Mutta family get their answers!

It's Amazing - We recently came across a cil-hi memo dated december 1990, signed by Johnie Webb. The memo mentions "J.C..Kieper" and states that he is neither listed as "killed or unaccounted for in SEA." It's true "J.C. Kieper" is not listed as killed or missing. However, J.C.. Keiper is listed as POW/MIA. He was a passenger aboard an army helicopter, lost on Nvember 15th, 1966. Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy! Let's hope CIL-HI has solved its I before E problems!

Why Does Johnie Webb Still Have A Job!

The National Alliance of Families Tenth Annual Forum is scheduled for June 17th - 19th, at the Sheraton Center City Hotel, Washington D.C. (same as last year.) Room rates at $105.00 per night. To make your reservation call 800-526-7495 or 202-775-0800. Remember to say you are with the Alliance. contributions are needed to keep the Alliance going. Donations may be mailed to:

National Alliance of Families

P.O. Box 40327

Bellevue, Wa. 98015

Remember all contributions are tax deductible.

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