For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen
National Chairperson - (firstname.lastname@example.org)
New York State Director - (email@example.com)
Russian Colonel Korotkov says - POWs from Korea Taken to the
Recants after call from KGB
Second Russian Colonel Orlov says - I interviewed Korean War POWs but Not in Soviet Union.
Both say - I interviewed Korean War POW - LTC. Black
The Question is - Where and When??????????
Korean War POWs Taken to the Former Soviet Union - From the Biweekly Report of Task Force Russia dated 15-28 August 1992 - "During the reporting period, the Moscow Office conducted the most significant interview to date. Col. (Ret.) G.I. Korotkov, currently employed by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, provided a wealth of information and leads.
SYNOPSIS: Korotkov stated the following:
--U.S. POW's from the Korean War were transferred to the Soviet Union, where they were imprisoned and interrogated.
--He personally interrogated two U.S. POW's, although he could not recall their names.
--He recalled the name "1TC Black" from among the POW's.
--Khabarovsk was a transit and interrogation point for the POW's.
--The POW's were under the control of the N~JD, although GRU interrogators had professional access to them at Khabarovsk.
--He believed the number of POW's processed through Khabarovsk was in the hundreds.
--He identified the channels through which interrogation reports were forwarded.
--The Soviets attempted to "turn" U.S. prisoners, but were relatively unsuccessful in comparison to their experience with German POW's from WWII.
--He asserted that the declassification process under the General Staff, which had targeted documents relative to the Commission's charter, has essentially ceased functioning since LTG Lobov's dismissal.
--He asserted that pertinent collected records are being held in the General Staff headquarters and that the current military leadership views their declassification as a low priority.
--He identified five archives as critical to the Commission's efforts:
(1) the External Policy Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
(2) the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense at Podol'sk,
(3) the Archives of the Main Political Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, which are held separately, (4) the Archives of the KGB, and (5) the Archives of the Politburo/Central Committee.
--He implied that some records dealing with U.S. POW's of the Korean War period may have been intentionally destroyed.
--He also identified potentially-lucrative lower level and out-of-channels archives.
--He identified individuals who might be useful to TFR's future efforts.
--He provided additional experiential and second-hand details on the handling of U.S. POW's.
ASSESSMENT: Interviewers assessed Korotkov as highly credible. His testimony is important not only for the valuable details highlighted above, but because he directly contradicts previous Russian assertions, both direct and oblique, that no U.S. POW's from the Korean War were ever transported to or held on Soviet soil. Historical sources available to the Washington office circumstantially corroborate Korotkov's specific claim that U.S. POW's were held in the vicinity of Khabarovsk. Further, an interview conducted by the Washington Office with an emigre source also surfaced the claim that "Americans" were held in a camp between Khabarovsk and the Komsomolsk region; however this source could provide no eyewitness details.
An analysis of geography and the lines of communication contemporary to the Korean War also supports the thesis that some U.S. Korean War POW's were held by the Soviets in the vicinity of Khabarovsk for an unspecified length of time. No account has surfaced of a repatriated U.S. POW who believed he had been held on Russian soil. Our working assumption, until disproved, will be that U.S. Korean War POW's were held in the Soviet Far East and that the issue of their fates requires resolution....."
On September 25th, 1992 the American Embassy in Moscow sent a message. Its subject was the "US-Russian Joint commission on POW/MIAs 23 September Working Level Presentations by the USDEL" (US Delegation) The message stated, in part, "DASD Patak"s presentation on Korea focused on reports of the transfer of American POWs to the Soviet Union. He stressed the recent media focus and the resultant public attention paid to the issue. He also presented the Russians with a copy of the Simpson report (Manchouli sighting), and discussed information on the transfer of US POWs to the Soviet Union provided by LTC (ret) Corso. Mr Ptak discussed the Polotnikov and Korotkov reports as examples of actual Soviet interrogations of US POWs. Mr. Ptak presented a message detailing the Korotkov report to the Russians, (comment: specific information on LTC Black, an unaccounted for U.S. servicemen mentioned in the Korotkov report, was later passed to a representative of the MOD. End comment). Ptak pointed out that the interrogation of LTC Black mentioned in the Korotkov report reportedly took place in Khabarovsk."
"Ptak added that the sum of information available so far presents a compelling case for the transfer of POWs to the Soviet Union. He closed by asking the Russians to provide more information on this subject as it becomes available."
"The immediate reaction of the Russian side was to question the evidence presented by the U.S. side.
External intelligence service representative Mazurov after conferring with the Joint Commissions Russian Secretary, who was present at the Korotkov interview, stated that the information provided by the Russian sources was based on documentary evidence, not first-hand interrogations. Task Force Russia Personnel who conducted the interview were adamant that such was not the case, and that the information was reported as first-hand."
Informaiton on the Plotnikov Interview - comes from a report titled "The Transfer of U.S. Korean War POWs To The Soviet Union" prepared by the Joint Commission Support Branch, Research and Analysis Division DPMO dated 26 August 1993, provides insight into Soviet Intelligence "In interviews with numerous former officers of the GRU (Military Intelligence) who served during in the Korean War, a distinct picture emerges of the specific roles of both the GRU and the MGB in the handling of POWs. The military intelligence officers uniformly describe a division of labor in which Army personnel capture POWs, GRU officers conduct tactical and operational interrogations, and then POWs are turned over for custody and final disposition to the MGB. This system operated from before World War II to the present. These officers repeatedly assert that if any POWs were taken to the Soviet Union, it would have been a closely controlled operation of the MGB at the time."
"Colonel Georgii Plotnikov was asked hypothetically if it would have been possible to effect such a transfer without GRU officers being aware of it. "Yes," he answered without hesitation. "It would have been a KGB [MGB] operation in cooperation with North Korean intelligence. The Soviet Army had no Gulag and was not prepared to deal with a stream of prisoners. The KGB [MGB] could do all of these things." The Soviets had the capability to move POWs, the Koreans would have permitted such an operation, and transport across the PRC would have been no problem, in Plotnikov's view. "At the time there was train service from Pyongyang to Moscow with a stop in China." The POWs, he stated, "would have been loaded into trucks with canvas drawn around them, then transferred to trains at night . . . The North Koreans hated Americans. They would have cooperated in such an operation if asked by the Soviets. The North Koreans could have not said no to a Soviet request."
"In Plotnikov's view, "specialized organs" in the Soviet Union would have made requests for particular types of Americans. "Design Bureaus might have made such requests," he said. The Deputy Chairman of the KGB [MGB] would be the lowest political level that could have approved such an operation that kept the GRU out of the picture. Grabbing American POWs [would have been a] political decision in response to a request. Infantry was of no interest to Soviet intelligence. There would have been no regular transfer. American POWs would have been moved as specialists fell into the camps. They would be identified and moved. The interest would not have been in people who operated equipment as much as it would have focused on people who understood the principles of how things worked...."
The Korotkov Recants - from the Biweekly Report of Task Force Russia 26 September - 9 October 1992 - "...The available evidence indicates that some U.S. Korean War service members believed killed may have survived at least long enough to undergo interrogation by the North Koreans and Chinese. Unrelated evidence from U.S. archives continues to build the circumstantial case that other U.S. Korean War prisoners were taken to the Soviet Union. Retired Colonel Korotkov, a key interview source on the Korean War issue, modified his testimony following a telephone call from a former KGB officer who now works for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service..."
"...General Volkogonov, on the other hand, informed TFR-Moscow that Alexander Semyonovich Orlov, a retired colonel, had informed the Russian side of the Commission that he had also interrogated U.S. Korean War POWs. Volkogonov further stated that he had the names of at least nine more officers who may have interrogated U.S. service members during the Korean War era, although he did not specify the location of those interrogations...."
"Representatives of TFR re-interviewed Colonel Korotkov, who had previously stated that he had personally interrogated two U.S. Korean War era POWs in Khabarovsk and that he had seen others there, as well. Korotkov openly told TFR that he had received a telephone call from Colonel Mazurov of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service discussing his testimony. Korotkov then "corrected" his recollections to state that he had, in fact, only interviewed U.S. POWs on a strip of land in the vicinity of the former USSR-China-North Korea border, and that he was unsure on whose territory the interrogations had actually taken place. He did not, however, retract his claim to have personally interrogated Americans, and his manner of speaking with TFR made it clear that he still regarded his original story as valid. He added that he and other Soviet officers worked sometimes in Soviet uniforms, sometimes in Chinese uniforms. Korotkov permitted the taping of this interview, at which MG Loeffke was present."
More On The Korotkov Recant - comes from the report of "The Transfer of U.S. Korean War POWs To The Soviet Union" - "In his first interview, Colonel Korotkov stated that he had interviewed a U.S. officer, LTC Black. We believe that this may have been USAF LTC Vance Eugene Black who was reported by other POWs to have died of mistreatment and malnutrition in a North Korean POW camp. Another retired Soviet officer, GRU Colonel Aleksandr Semyonovich Orlov, stated that he had arranged for an interview by a Pravda correspondent with LTC Vance Black. In his subsequent interview with MG Loeffke, Colonel Korotkov denied having interrogated LTC Black, stating that he perhaps we had confused the name with a black POW. Task Force Russia interviewers, however, were adamant that he had been referring to the family name "Black" rather than to the black race. In this second interview, Colonel Korotkov remembered that the first officer he interviewed had been an Army first lieutenant, most likely from the 24th Infantry Division, but that he could remember nothing else. He had better recall about an Air Force pilot because he found much in common with him, such as color of hair (light), height (about 6'2"), rank (captain). He also said the pilot was about 28 to 30 years old. Colonel Korotkov also stated that while he was assigned to the project of interrogating Americans in the Far East during the Korean War, he also interrogated Japanese POWs, captured in World War II, and still held in Soviet custody. Here is an admission that foreign POWs were part of an overall system of exploitation.
Colonel Korotkov changed his statement in a subsequent interview with Major General Bernard Loeffke, former Director of Task Force Russia (now Joint Commission Support Branch - JCSB), in September 1992 after being contacted by a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. He then stated that the interrogations took place somewhere undefined, which he could not remember, in the Chinese-Korean-Soviet tri-border area. In MG Loeffke's words:
"Since that encounter, the colonel changed his story as to the location where he interrogated U.S. POWs. Even after having been contacted by the KGB official, COL Korotkov agreed to answer questions on tape in front of Russian LTC Osipov, General Volkogonov's assistant. This interview took place on September 29. He said he and other Soviet officers in Soviet and at times Chinese uniforms had interrogated U.S. POWs over a 1-2 year period (1951-52) in an area near the borders of USSR, Korea and China. In this new version, Korotkov claims that he did not know, if that particular location was in Russia or not. The important point is that he would not say that it was not inside Russia. In all previous interviews he had specifically said that these interrogations took place in Khabarovsk. The colonel was obviously willing to oblige the security services by not saying that it took place in Khabarovsk; but he was not willing to say that it did not take place on Russian soil. The colonel's official statement on tape, and in front of a Russian officer assigned-to the-Joint POW/MIA Commission cannot easily be refuted. Korotkov is a respected military officer with prestigious academic credentials."
"What Colonel Korotkov did not do was to deny that Soviet military personnel, including himself, were directly involved in the interrogation of a "large" number of American POWs during the Korean War. In a subsequent videotaped interview recorded by Mr. Ted Landreth, an Australian journalist, Colonel Korotkov clearly stated that American POWs had been taken "through Khabarovsk" into the camp system. Their ultimate destination he did not know."
Colonel Orlov says - Message from the American Embassy Moscow, dated October 15th, 1992, Subject POW/MIA Team Interview With Colonel Orlov. "In an interview on October 5, 1992, retired Col. Orlov provided details of accepted Soviet procedures for obtaining information from U.S. POWs held by the North Koreans. While he stated that questionnaires were routinely used, Orlov claimed to have come into personal contact with more than one U.S. POW in North Korea. He denied any knowledge of any U.S. POW ever having been taken to the Soviet Union. Orlov's comments concerning cold war shootdowns appears to coincide with previously known information."
"... in approximately march of 1951, Prior to his graduation from the military institute of Foreign languages, Orlov and several of his classmates were called into the main intelligence directorate (GRU) of the general staff and offered a long-term TDY. They accepted and were briefed by a General Malandin. Five officers, with Captain Orlov as the senior man, were then sent by train from Moscow to Peking in late March of 1951."
"Orlov stated that the Soviet 64th Air Corps had been participating in the Korean War since the fall of 1950. When the five officers arrived in Wan Dun (?), Orlov, due to his rank and radio communications training, was appointed head of this intelligence team and assigned to a division of the 64th Air Corps which was stationed there. Their mission was to monitor American radio nets and aircraft communications channels from both the ground and the air. While there, they sometimes wore Chinese volunteer uniforms without any insignia or markings...."
"...According to Orlov, Lieutenant General Georgiy Ageyevich Lobov, Commander of the Soviet 64th Air Corps, ordered Orlov to North Korea to interrogate, via questionnaires through the North Koreans, several captured American pilots...."
"....Orlov explained that the questionnaires dealt primarily with technical and tactical information. There was great interest in the F-86's performance (range, tactics, speed, etc.), especially in comparison to the MIG-15's. In addition, they sought data such as the length of "crew rest time" before a second mission, the organization of the chain of command, as well as technical information on anti-G suits, rescue equipment, radar and radio homing beacons. Orlov said that he and his group prepared the questions in english, received the answers back, and sent their reports on to headquarters. He claims no efforts were ever made to recruit Americans. He added that the majority of the time he never saw the american pilots."
"Orlov stated that the exception to this was one time when he and a Pravda correspondent named (fnu) Ttkachenko, who in the 70's worked for "Sovetskiy Patriot", were given KGB permission to interview a captured 5th Army Headquarters staff member by the name of LTC (fnu) Black. This officer was of high interest to the Russians as they wanted to exploit him for propaganda purposes. Black's staff officer position made him different from other captured Americans, and there was a need for a good English language interpreter to be present. This interview took place in July 1951, at a command point in Pyongyong, near Komer Sam (?). The structure where the interview was held resembled a little Korean hut. Orlov served as the interpreter and wore, as he recalled, either civilian clothes or a chinese uniform. No KGB or GRU personnel were present, however, there were several North Koreans in attendance. The interview lasted about an hour. Orlov recalled that LTC Black was dressed in robelike clothing and seemed to enjoy the questioning. He could not remember any specific questions asked, but said they were of a professional and technical nature."
"At this point, Orlov mentioned another pilot for whom he interpreted.. this pilot was then sent back to camp (possibly a ruined prison called, or in, Singusu) (NB: this is an approximate English phonetic rendering from a Russian speaker of a Chinese name), where Americans were kept. Orlov did not recall anything about the other pilot except to relate that either this pilot or LTC Black had a bachelors degree and had been a pilot during World War II. He seemed to have lost the ability to distinguish between the two at this point. Aside from serving as an interpreter, Orlov said he made drawings and pointed out things, usually in written form, during the interrogation process...."
"...Orlov claimed to have been involved in this questionnaire activity from May to July 1951, along with three other Russians. They were all replaced in late july 1951 by four new linguists from the military institute of foreign languages... Orlov emphatically stated that he had never heard of any American POW ever being transshipped to the Soviet Union....."
Who Is LTC Black And Where Is He - According to records LTC Black is Air Force Lt. Col. Vance Eugene Black, born August 15th, 1916. His home city of records is Fairfax Oklahoma. On 14 August 1951, the Soviet newspaper Pravda published an article titled "The Ways of the Interventionists in Korea" by A. Tkachenko. The article, which is a prime example of Cold War anti U.S. propaganda, carries a purported interview with "Lieutenant Colonel V. Black. The text of the article is unimportant. What is important is the fact that the existence of this article confirms Col. Orlov's statement of Soviet contact with American POWs during the Korean War.
Col. Korotkov and Col. Orlov both admit contact with U.S. POWs and LTC Black.. Col. Korotkov says that contact came on Soviet soil, recanting only after a call from the Russian KGB.
As for LTC Black, according to government records Col. Black died in a POW camp in November 1951. Reports indicate the information on Col. Black was provided by returned POW Robert O'Shea. Did returned POW - O'Shea provide any other information on Col. Black? We wonder......
The Manchouli Transfer - In 1954, then Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles recognized information on the transfer of POW's through China to the Soviet Union during the Korean War was reliable. In message traffic Dulles stated "reports have now come attention United States Government which support earlier indications that American Prisoners of War Korea had been "transported into Soviet Union and are now Soviet custody. Request fullest possible information these POW's and their reparation earliest possible time."
The 1954 cable marked "Secret" bearing the Dulles, name (Note: Cable below is reproduced as is - with all typos and misspellings) states; "According Despatch 1716 from Hong Kong airpouched you a recently arrived Greek refugee from Manchuria reported seeing several hundred American POW's being transferred Chinese trains to Russian trains Manchouli late 1951 and early 1952. Some POW's wore sleeve insignia indicating they were Air Force non-coms. Great number Negro troops also observed. This report corroborates previous indications UNC POW to might have been shipped to Siberia during Korean hostilities."
"United States has been greatly concerned general subject UNC personnel who may still be Communist custody. Department has just accepted British offer make representations Peiping behalf UNC personnel who may be Chinese Communist custody. Question raising this matter informally Geneva under careful consideration."
"Unless you perceive objection request you approach highest available level Foreign Ministry and leave Aide Memoire undicating (sic) reports have now come attention United States Government which support earlier indications that American Prisoners of War Korea had been "transported into Soviet Union and are now Soviet custody. Request fullest possible information these POW's and their reparation earliest possible time."
"In your discussion with Foreign Office, you may desire inform Soviets without revealing source that we have reliable accounts transfers POW's Manchouli."
"Prisoner of War Not for Direct Repatriation" -- On May 16th, 1954, the Chief of the Army's Legal Division, Col. John K. Weber submitted a memorandum regarding statements made by Lee Sang Cho. The memorandum is written on the letterhead of "Headquarters United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission." According to the memorandum Mr. Lee made the following statement, during the 42nd meeting of the Military Armistice Commission.
"The prisoners of war of your side once held by our side were already completely repatriated in accordance with the Armistice Agreement. The prisoner of war not for direct repatriation are held by our side pending the final disposition of the entire prisoner of war question."
In providing an opinion of Mr. Lee's statement, Col. Weber writes: "Two things must be borne in mind in getting at the meaning of this statement. First, it was not a 'prepared-in-advance' statement; rather it was an 'on the cuff' reply prepared during the meeting' and, secondly it was intended as a reply to our demand for an accounting for more than three thousand of our prisoners which we had just leveled at the enemy."
"The enemy has always contended:
a: It has returned all prisoners entitled to be repatriated.
b: That as to prisoners of war 'not for direct repatriation' the final disposition of the status of such prisoner yet remains for 'the political conference provided for in the Armistice Agreement, or at any other related international conferences'. (See Letter 26 January 1954 from Lee Sang Cho to Chairman of the Neutral Nationals Repatriation Commission.)"
"...It is significant that such letter was occasioned by and was concerned with the 347 non-repatriated prisoners of war."
"The enemy has consistently contended that under the language of the Armistice Agreement, the status of non-repatriated prisoners of war is a matter reserved to the political conference. Under these circumstances the enemy may be charged with a wrongful 'interpretation' as distinguished from a breech of an undisputed covenant...."
"There is one feature about the language used by the enemy which definitely should be explored by us. In all the communications and statements made by the enemy, a singular phrasing has been used. That expression in substance is: 'prisoners of war not for direct repatriation.'"
"The Armistice Agreement refers to such prisoners as 'those prisoners of war who have not exercised their right to be repatriated.' It is here pointed out with much emphasis that the expression 'prisoners of war not for direct repatriation could included not only such prisoners who had not exercised their right to be repatriated, but others whom the enemy had decided were not for direct repatriation."
"It is my thought that the Chinese and Korean language versions used in the Armistice Agreement should be compared with the Chinese and Korean language versions used by Lee Sang Cho in his letter of 26 January 1954, and in the Lee Sang Cho statement at the 42nd meeting of the MAC. If the Armistice language is found to be substantially different from these later statements we have a very substantial and embarrassing opening to follow-up on the more than three thousand prisoners who have not been returned."
What was the State Department saying in 1955 - A memo from the office of the Secretary of Defense, dated Sept. 16th, 1955 and signed by G.B. Erskine, general USMC, Assistant to the secretary of defense, special operations, on the subject of Geneva Negotiations on Prisoners of War, states;
1. In accordance with telephonic conversations with representatives of this office today, it is the position of the Department of Defense that the Chinese Communists should account to the U.S. for the ultimate fate of all 450 U.S. armed forces personnel.
2. The names of these individuals were conveyed to the Department of State and to Ambassador Johnson in July prior to his departure for Geneva. A further copy is attached hereto.
3. It should be particularly noted that the Department of Defense does not and has never alleged that any or all of these individuals are now alive or that they were ever prisoners of war. Rather, it is our position that they were either captured or killed in action under circumstances in which the UN forces were unable to determine their fate. Equally, it is our position that one or another of the elements of the Chinese and/or North Korean forces were in a position at the time of the incidents concerned to determine their fate.
4. To cite an example, we have been able to determine through the interrogation of returned U.S. armed services personnel that some of these individuals were last seen engaged in combat and completely surrounded by enemy forces. Whether the individual died during that combat or was taken prisoner, it is the obligation of the enemy forces under the Geneva Convention to report upon his fate.
5. In other instances we have been able to determine from the interrogation of returned prisoners of war that some (perhaps 33) of the individuals listed in the group of 450 were in fact taken prisoner. For example, we have sworn testimony that a given individual was seriously wounded, in "prison camp number 5" on a given date, and was removed by the Chinese Communists during the night, after which he was never seen again.
6. On the basis of this evidence, we are also in a position to insist that an accounting for these individuals be rendered. The names of these individuals are included in the list of 450.
7. There is also evidence based upon radar plots and intercepted voice messages, as well as upon the recovery of casualties, that a small number of Air Force crews whose missions involved flights over the Sea of Japan during the Korean War were shot down by aircraft based in the Soviet Far East, some of whom are probably held in the Soviet Union. These cases (some 33) are of course not directly relevant to the current negotiations at Geneva. The missions on which these aircraft were flying, while related to the Korean War, are highly classified and the names of these individuals have never been included on any lists for which we have demanded an accounting from the Chinese Communists.
8. In summary, it is the view of the Department of Defense that the Chinese Communists should make an accounting for the fate of the entire 450 whose names have been made available. As a negotiating point it may be added that at least 33 of these individuals were at one time in POW status. More were undoubtedly in such status but no positive evidence to that effect is available to us. In any case, however, we do not consider it desirable to treat these 33 in any way separately from the entire 450.
9. Some of the 450 may still be alive. However, no positive evidence on this score is available to us.
10. The Department of Defense has undertaken the most extensive analysis possible of all of its casualty figures and of the ultimate disposition of every member of the armed forces who served in Korea. On the basis of this analysis the above statistics have been developed. However, several million men served in Korea during the period 1950-53 and it cannot be said to be impossible that some individuals (who have on the basis of varying evidence been determined to be dead) may still be held by the Communists.
11. The U.S. should not be surprised, particularly in light of Japanese and German experiences with the Soviets in World War II, if a number of completely unrecorded Americans are ultimately found to be alive or to have been alive and in Communist hands. Such individuals do not appear on the list of 450 nor on any other list which has ever been presented. Nor is there any significant evidence available at this time that such individuals exist. Neither do we suggest that any action can be taken with regard to this possibility.
12. Your attention is again invited to the undesirability of providing any information through any source which might lead the next of kin of these armed forces personnel discussed herein to assume or believe that these personnel might still be alive and held unless the Communists are prepared at some point to document such information.
In the mid- 1950's, it sure sounds like U.S. officials believed there was creditable evidence of POW transfers to both China and the former Soviet Union.
What A DPMO Analyst Said, In March of 1996, About the Possibility of American POWs Still Held In North Korea - In a three page report DPMO Analyst I.O. Lee concluded; "there are too many live sighting reports, specifically observations of several Caucasians in a collective farm by Romanians and the North Korean defectors' eyewitness of Americans in DPRK to dismiss that there are no American POWs in North Korea."
Russian Memoirs - Best described as a diary, the memoirs provide detailed information obtained throughvarious sources of American POWs from World War II, Korea and the Cold War transferred to the former Soviet Union.
According to a February 26, 2000 Associated Press article by Robert Burns "the assertions, while not confirmed, appear to support, and in some important respects strengthen, a case the Pentagon has been building for several years: U.S. servicemen in the 1940s and 1950s were silently swallowed up in the U.S.S.R.'s brutal gulag system of forced labor, never to be heard from again."
"There has to be something to this,'' said Norman Kass, who helped translate the unpublished personal memoir from Russian and interviewed the author on behalf of the Pentagon agency in charge of Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Affairs.... "
"...the memoir is exceptional because it provides names of individual servicemen. For example, it identifies by name 22 men said to have been held in late 1951 at the Kirovskij Mining camp near the Kamenka river in the sub-arctic pine forests of the Krasnoyarsk Region. The memoir's author cites secondhand accounts of area residents seeing the Prisoners, ``wearing bare threads and half-frozen,'' being led from the Kirovskij Camp Along a road to an undetermined destination - ``a dead-end....''
"...Kass said that although the events described by the author have not been independently verified, he believes the man is credible... There is no question that he spent many years in the Gulag network of forced labor camps. The man, now in his late 70s, was exiled to Siberia and worked as a permafrost engineer in the early 1950s near the Kirovskij Mining camp where the 22 Americans were said to have been held."
"In the translation from Russian, only one of the 22 names can be matched with a missing American servicemen. He is listed in Army casualty records as Chan Jay Park Kim, a Hawaiian of Korean descent. Kim was a private first class in the 24th infantry division's 34th infantry regiment, captured by North Korean forces on July 8, 1950. On that day, the 34th infantry collapsed in its defense of the town of Ch'onan south of Seoul, giving the advancing north korean army entry to most of the rest of southern Korea."
"According to Pentagon records, fellow members of the 34th infantry who survived captivity in Korea told Army debriefers that once he became a POW, Kim tried to mask his ethnic background by using the name George Leon. It is that name which appears among the 22 on the list from the Soviet labor camp. "
"Army casualty records list Kim as having died in Korea in January 1951, but his body was not recovered.... "
"...another section of the memoir describes the fate of 10 members of a 12-man crew of a U.S. Air Force B-29 reconnaissance plane, which was shot down by Soviet forces over the Sea of Japan on June 13, 1952. American search and rescue teams recovered no remains from the plane, and in July 1956 the U.S. government appealed to Moscow for information about the crew. The State Department note said an officer believed to have been a member of the crew was seen in October 1953 in a Soviet hospital north of the Siberian Port of Magadan. The Soviets replied that no American servicemen were on Soviet territory. "
"The Russian emigre said that in the 1980s he was told by an associate with extensive experience in the far eastern reaches of Siberia that he had learned the names of two of the captured B-29 fliers: ``Bush and Moore.'' the B-29's Commander was Maj. Samuel Busch. A crew member was Master Sgt. David L. Moore. The memoir indicates that Busch and Moore were killed - possibly beaten to death - in the Siberian city of Khabarovsk," [Note: This is the same location mentioned by Col. Korotkov as a transit and interrogation point for POWs.] apparently a short time after their capture. Eight surviving crew members were put in solitary confinement in a prison in Svobodnyi, a city northwest of Khabarovsk near the Chinese border, it said. "
"Charlotte Busch Mitnik, a sister of Samuel Busch, said in an interview that the memoir ``reinforces what I believe'' happened to him and jibes with unconfirmed rumors her family heard shortly after her brother's capture."
More On The Memoirs - from the Detroit News, July 9, 2000 by John Omicinski - "U.S. investigators say they have stronger evidence than ever that American soldiers missing in action -- including spy pilots shot down during the Cold War -- were held in the Soviet "gulag archipelago" of prison camps. "We believe the sheer volume of reports suggests it may likely have happened," said James MacDougall, senior analyst with a U.S.-
Russia Cold War working group seeking information on Prisoners of War and servicemen Missing in Action."
"...The trail of the Americans through the Siberian taiga has run hot and cold, said MacDougall. But a "memoir" turned over to U.S. officials and reviewed by Gannett News Service contains new information and at least one firsthand sighting. U.S. officials won't name the author, a Russian who spent decades in Siberian "internal exile."
"The author reports seeing an emaciated American named "Dale" in January of 1953. The encounter occurred at a uranium mine on the island of Rybak off the Soviet Pacific coast, where Dale had been sent by Soviet jailers to make engineering repairs. Dale, the memoir said, reported that more Americans were imprisoned at Strelka, on the Yenisei River basin in central Russia near Novosibirsk. Officials confirm that an aviator named Dale remains among the missing."
"The writer also reported seeing 14 American prisoners of war held by the Soviets in 1948. The Soviets, according to the document, took them from their Japanese captors when World War II ended. He said he saw U.S. personnel emerge from "out of the hold of a ship transporting slaves" at a pier in the Bay of Nagaev on Russia's Pacific coast."
"Once-secret State Department files at the National Archives say that at least two informants -- one a man identified as "Wukomitsch" - - reported talking with U.S. fliers who survived when their PB4Y2 reconnaissance plane was shot down over the Baltic Sea on April 8, 1950. One flier told the informant eight of the 10 members of the crew survived and were sentenced to 25 years for espionage, according to papers examined by Gannett News Service. The fliers reportedly were seen in a prison camp at Vorkuta, in northern Siberia near the Kara Sea."
"In December 1953, the Japanese Foreign Office told Washington that a repatriated Japanese reported seeing an American in a hospital at "Camp 20" near Magadan in eastern Siberia. In many cases, the aircraft were sent to test Soviet radar equipment, according to officials of the Defense Prisoner of War/ Missing Personnel Office. But also in many cases, U.S. officials insist the Soviets attacked the aircraft in neutral territory."
"The downings occurred in an era when the Pentagon had no spy satellites in orbit to keep track of the Soviet war machine. For many years, the Pentagon insisted the aircraft were shot down on weather missions. In exchange for Russian help, U.S. officials now admit that virtually all the planes were on spy missions."
"U.S. teams have dug through card files and talked to Soviets held in the prisons and "mental" hospitals of the "gulag" -- the chain of outposts, mostly in Siberia, where dissidents and other undesirables were sent, usually without trial or charge. According to the official report of the U.S. side, the Russian leader, Col. Vladimir Vinogradov, denigrated the memoir as a "fantasy" and demanded the writer's name...."
Dateline Khabarovsk Russia - From the New York Times July 1996 - by James Brooke - "Khabarovsk, Russia -- Time has stooped Vladimir Trotsenko's shoulders, but his memories are as clear as his cobalt blue eyes: the American flyer, his right arm in a new cast, in a Soviet military hospital ward. The American, he recalled, would slowly repeat, "America -- San Francisco, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Chicago."
"Curious, Trotsenko, a paratrooper recovering from a knee injury, would hobble down the third-floor hospital corridor to gaze at the four imprisoned Americans. The airman with the broken arm would point to a crewman in a body cast and would make cradling motions with his arms, indicating that the man had left two small children back home...."
"...I did not talk about this for 43 years," Trotsenko, spry at 68, said as his wife, Nina, served blini and borscht at their wooden dacha outside this city, the largest industrial center of Russia's Far East. In 1994, he noticed a small advertisement in a local newspaper placed by a new group, a Russian-American commission on prisoners of war. Admitting that he was "tortured" about whether "to call or not to call," he finally did."
"As fears of official retribution ease, more and more Russians are following Trotsenko's lead and are talking to American government researchers seeking traces of Americans who vanished into the gulag during seven decades of communism. Responding to advertisements for information, calls and letters trickle in to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the new consulate in Vladivostok...."
"...Numbering in the thousands, the list of Americans sent to Soviet labor camps is long and varied. They include left-wing Americans who emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1930s only to be arrested as spies during Stalin's xenophobic sweeps; hundreds of dual nationals sent to Siberian labor camps after Stalin annexed Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in 1940; about 500 American military prisoners kept after World War II by Stalin as bargaining chips; about 30 F-86 pilots and crewmen captured during the Korean War and transferred to the Soviet Union in a secret aircraft industry intelligence operation; and as many as 100 American airmen who survived downing of spy planes over Soviet territory during the Cold War...."
"Clearly, there were a lot of Americans washing around the gulag, but it is unimaginable that any of the World War II prisoners are still alive," said Paul M. Cole, [Note: see Reuters article below] who wrote a three-volume report for the Rand Corp. in 1994 on American prisoners from Worl d War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War who were held in the Soviet Union."
"Family members of Americans missing in Korea and in the Cold War downing are increasingly demanding answers from the bilateral research group, the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs."
"I definitely believe that some survived," said Patricia Lively Dickinson, a Delaware resident, who believes that her brother, Jack D. Lively, a Navy airman who was shot down in 1951, was one of the four Americans that Trotsenko saw at the military hospit al. "I feel that Jack's files are in the KGB files."
"Bruce Sanderson, a North Dakota steelworker, also believes that his father, Lt. Warren Sanderson, survived the shooting down of his reconnaissance plane near Vladivostok in 1953. "In 1955, a repatriated Japanese POW identified a picture of my dad," said Sanderson, who was born a few months after his father was shot down. "He could still be alive. It was just in 1992 that the Russians freed the last 80 Japanese POW's from World War II...."
"...Even as government 'insiders' with security clearances, we had great difficulty in locating documents" from U.S. government agencies, Col. Stuart A. Herrington of the Army, the task force's American deputy director, wrote in an appraisal in 1994. "Once located, documents are frequently classified -- often mindlessly...."
"...Peter Johnson, a major in the Army Reserve, who worked on the project in 1993, complained: "From the American standpoint, we ran into almost as much institutional resistance as from the Soviet side. The CIA did not want to talk to us...."
"...Often asked to "keep an eye on the Americans" by the Soviet army guard, Trotsenko said, he saw four men in five beds. A fifth American apparently died of ejection injuries a few days before Trotsenko was admitted. One American was so badly burned he could take sustenance only intravenously. Two others, who seemed to have reasonable chances of survival, were spoon-fed by a nurse. The fourth, with the broken arm, fed himself with his good arm. At the time of Trotsenko's release, in mid-November 1951, the Americans were still in the hospital, he said."
|Lt. Gilbert L. Ashley Jr.------- ABANDONED||Lt. John P. Shaddick ----------- ABANDONED|
|Lt. Arthur R. Olsen, ----------- ABANDONED||Lt. Harold P. Turner ----------- ABANDONED|
|Capt. Harold M. Beardall, ------ ABANDONED||Maj. Kassel M. Keene,----------- ABANDONED|
|Airman Hidemaro Ishida, -------- ABANDONED|
According to a report declassified in 1997, the servicemen listed above were thought to be alive in enemy hands at the conclusion of the Korean War. The following is excerpted from an Associated Press Article, dated August 5th, 1997, by Robert Burns:
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Air Force had indications that dozens of missing American airmen were alive in Chinese or North Korean prisons two years after the Korean War, according to a newly declassified report. The report provides new details about how many men were left behind -- even after the exchange of prisoners -- and who these Americans were. It also describes a dramatic failed attempt to rescue five members of a B-29 bomber crew shot down six months before the war ended in July 1953...."
"The report, labeled "secret," said the five "were known to be alive in communist hands as of the close of the Korean conflict." The five never returned. Their names -- and most of the others mentioned in the newly released Air Force intelligence report -- are on a Defense Department list of 389 men from all services who are unaccounted for from the war and about whom the U.S. government believes China or North Korea had information. Both China and North Korea maintain they withheld no American POWs from the war...."
"China took control of the prisoner-of-war camps in North Korea in 1951, and in some cases transferred U.S. POWs to China for interrogations. Compelling but unsubstantiated reports have emerged in recent months suggesting a small number of U.S. servicemen from the war may still be in North Korea. For the first time since the end of the war, North Korea has begun addressing the issue...."
"The declassified Air Force report, dated Oct. 19, 1955, and prepared by the Escape and Evasion Section of the 6004th Air Intelligence Service Squadron, offers no proof that any of the 137 men it mentions were still alive then; most of the cases were based on sketchy information from repatriated POWs, enemy propaganda broadcasts and intelligence sources in North Korea...."
"The strongest statement in the report pertains to the case of the five B-29 crew members: 1st Lt. Gilbert L. Ashley Jr., Airman 2nd Class Hidemaro Ishida, 1st Lt. Arthur R. Olsen, 2nd Lt. John P. Shaddick and 1st Lt. Harold P. Turner. Their B-29 was shot down about 10 miles south of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Jan. 29, 1953...."
"Although the site was behind enemy lines, a rescue attempt was made on May 24. It failed. The pilot of the rescue plane made radio contact with Ashley on the ground as they prepared to pinpoint the airmen's location and arrange a "snatch" pickup in which a harness and cord dropped to the men would be hooked by a cable extended from the rescue aircraft, allowing the men to be reeled in to safety. "The pilot reported that the voice was definitely that of the American who had previously been identified as Lieutenant Ashley," the report said. It said the rescue plane was damaged by machine gun fire, forcing them to abort the mission."
"Ashley and four crew members (Turner, Olsen, Shaddick and Ishida) were known to be alive in communist hands as of the close of the Korean conflict, July '53," the report said. It does not say how the Air Force knew this."
"In his book "Soldiers of Misfortune," journalist Mark Sauter wrote that U.S. intelligence officials received a message, apparently from Ashley's North Korean captors, that was interpreted as confirmation the five were alive as of Aug. 4, 1953...."
"The Air Force report also describes the case of Capt. Harold M. Beardall, who went down in North Korea aboard a B-26 bomber on May 21, 1951. It mentions several sightings of Beardall by other American POWs months after the shootdown. Beardall was said to have been "held separately from other Air Force" POWs in North Korea. His name was on Chinese hospital records of officers who were interrogated, it said. "Names of this type we feel are alive," the report says."
"An unidentified source is quoted in the report as saying Beardall was tried as a war criminal, apparently by the Chinese. Such "trials" were held for many U.S. officers, and their "convictions" used as grounds for refusing to repatriate them."
"Maj. Kassel M. Keene, for example, who went missing on Nov. 19, 1951, was said to have been sentenced in July 1953 for assaulting a fellow prisoner. "According to the sentence, he was not to be effected (sic) by repatriation," the report said. Some men listed in the Air Force intelligence report were described as having been seen by other American POWs at Kaesong, North Korea, where U.N. prisoners were taken in preparation to be repatriated shortly after the end of the war."
The report cited in the AP article was almost 42 years old at the time it was declassified in June 1997. How much longer do the families of our Prisoners and Missing have to wait for the truth? Men were abandoned at the end of World War II. Men were abandoned at the end of the Korean - Cold War. Men were abandoned at the end of the war in Southeast Asia and Michael Speicher was abandoned during the Gulf War. It's long past time for the truth.
Could World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War or Gulf War POWs be alive today. The answer is a resounding YES! As recently as 1998 Japanese POWs held by the Soviets were returned to Japan. In August 2000, Andras Toma, held by the Russians since 1944 was discovered in a Psychiatric Hospital and released. The World War II soldier was captured in 1944. In 1947 he was transfered to a Soviet Psychiatric Hospital, where he survived until his release in August 2000.
If a Hungarian POW and Japanese POWs could survive the harsh Gulag life, why not Americans?
From Reuters Oct. 5th, 2000 by Krisztina Than - Budapest, (Reuters) - Doctors said on Thursday the identity of a Hungarian POW who spent 53 years in a Russian Psychiatric Hospital has been confirmed, but the old man barely knows he will soon return to his family. ``The World War has ended for Andras Toma and now he can start a quiet life within his family,'' Andras Veer, Director of Hungary's National Psychiatry and Neurology Institute, told a news conference...."
"``He seems much happier and calmer now that he's back home in Hungary, and I think he feels something great has happened to him,'' says Akos Barth, a young doctor who treats Toma in Budapest. ``he gave up his habit of eating alone in a corner,'' added Veer.
All of Hungary has been following the saga of the aging POW, who was forgotten by the world until a Slovak doctor treating him in Russia realized that the old man, who barely communicated with anyone, spoke a few words of Hungarian. That led to Toma, who was identified in Russian documents only as Andras Tomas, being returned to Hungary in August and the beginning of a massive effort to determine his identity....
"...since his homecoming on August 11, a team of doctors, military experts and historians have meticulously pieced together Toma's past from his fragmented memories...."
"...Toma was born in 1925 and lived in a tiny village called Sulyanbokor in eastern Hungary before he was recruited into a demoralized German-led Hungarian Army in November 1944 -- to be captured by Soviet troops in Poland in January 1945. In 1947 he was transferred from a prisoners' camp to a hospital in Kotelnich, 700 km (450 miles) from Moscow with symptoms of schizophrenia. He was lost for over half a century...."
"...the defense ministry is planning to give Toma a higher rank as well as compensation for the past 55 years -- but it is hardly possible to compensate for a lost life. ``It was difficult to wait, but we're very happy now,'' said Janos Toma, his brother, struggling with words. ``I wish the same could happen to others who had lost their relatives in the war,'' he added."
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