'MAY STILL BE ALIVE'
A Telegram Arrives in Plainfield, Connecticut:
By September 1953, when this story appeared, the two official POW exchanges in Korea were over. Roger Dumas, private first class when captured but granted a promotion to the rank of corporal during his long absence from his unit, had been in Communist captivity for almost three years.
Repatriated POWs leaving North Korea took note that he was at the repatriation point, but was moved from one truck to another. The list of men the U.S. government believed could be accounted for by the Communists stood at 944. That was just the Americans. There were dozens of others from Britain, Colombia, Turkey, and some from France, South Africa, the Philippines.
Later some of Roger Dumas' buddies would recall they weren't worried. They had no reason to believe he wouldn't return home within a few days. But years passed before his family - especially his brother Robert, who had made the search for him a full-time occupation - would learn the details of those last few days as the United Nations sent Chinese and North Korean prisoners north, in exchange for POWs from the U.S., South Korea, and a dozen other countries that had furnished fighting men to the UN effort.
Some veterans of Camp 5, like Bobby Caruth, were located in time to include their testimony in the federal court suit that dragged on for six years, from 1978 to 1984.
Others, like Ciro Santo, only came forward later, after hearing about the case and realizing that Roger Dumas had not followed them home.
After they told their stories to Robert Dumas - and after he repeatedly sought assistance from anyone in government in making the issue of Korean war POWs more public and urgent - the Pentagon's POW/MIA office finally approached both Caruth and Santos a few years ago and asked them for details for their records.updated accounts.
Here are excerpts from their statements:
8. Do you have any knowledge of POWs, possibly still alive, who might not have returned to US control after exchange of POWs in 1953?
Roger Dumas. I remember Roger because he was captured along with me (on Nov. 4, 1950.)
9. When did you first meet a POW named Roger Dumas and what do you know about him?
His company, Charlie Company, was located on the other side of the road, adjacent to our Dog Company. We were captured by Chinese and our hands were tied behind our backs with commo wires. Dumas was tied to me as we marched toward the POW camp. At the POW camp 5, Roger and I along with several of us were considered Reactionaries because we did not comply with the Chinese and we were sent to a Reactionary camp.
12. When was the last time you have seen Roger Dumas....?
On the morning of the repatriation, we were told to assemble by a truck. As we were assembled, I saw Roger Dumas walking a trail. As he came closer to us, I asked him, 'Roger, where are you going?' He gave me a should shrug as to indicate that he didn't know. At the end of the trail was a parked truck, waiting for him to arrive and he climbed in.
17. When you were asked about other POWs of whom you had knowledge...did you give Dumas' name?
No. I thought Roger Dumas was repatriated.
8. Did you have any knowledge of POWs, possibly still alive, who might not have returned to US control after exchange of POWs in 1953?
Yes. Dumas. I remember Dumas. He was with the second platoon....I knew him as we were assigned to the same company. I've known him from Naktong River, South Korea, to Anju, North Korea, where we were captured. At Anju area, we were to hold the Chinese advancement but the Able and Bad (Baker) companies took off on us without telling us. Able Company was commanded by Gen. (Walton) Walker's son. We were not wounded when we were captured by the Chinese. We were marched well over 100 miles in all directions.
Before being captured, I did not know too much about Roger....occasionally we would cross paths. He was with our group of POWs.
The last time I saw Roger Dumas was about 10 to 15 minutes prior to my repatriation. He was in good health. Roger was with us for the entire trip from Camp 3 to near the repatriation center. We left Camp 3 on several trucks and I saw Roger on one of the trucks.
We were taken to the northeast...Manpo. At Manpo, Roger and the rest of the group was loaded up in the train headed South...Then we were loaded up in a truck to the Freedom Village. Near the Freedom Village, when we got off the truck, I saw Roger was led away by two Chinese. The location was about 100 yards from the repatriation point.
14. At the time of repatriation, what were your thoughts?
Well, I was glad to get out of North Korea and did not think much of others. As far as I was concerned, Roger Dumas was also (going) to be repatriated.
, his family received a telegram saying he was on a list of 944 Korean War servicemen the U.S. government says"there is reason to believe" were still in Communist custody.
Like the report in late 1950 that Roger was missing in action, this news didn't go to the family, they recall. The telegram went first to the local newspaper.
The newspaper passed it on to the Roman Catholic priest who knew the family best.
The priest gave it to the Dumas family. From that first report in 1950, Roger's brother Robert had been determined to find him, or at least to spur his government to find him, and bring him home. That was nearly 50 years ago. His search goes on.
Copyright 2000 Ink-Slinger Press.