Bits 'N' Pieces 2016

National Alliance of Families

For the Return of America's Missing Servicemen

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


Welcome to Bits N Pieces, the newsletter of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen. Please note that any and all information contained on our pages are available for downloading and distribution. In fact, we encourage it.

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Baron 52 Update.

We are pleased to have been working in concert with the Matejov family to share information on the request for change of status regarding the Baron 52 case.

“An unexpected delay has occurred with the Secretary of the Air Force (SecAir Force) rendering the final decision on the Baron 52 case, most likely made by my questioning the lack of the Director, DPAA (Mr. Linnington’s) analysis of the Tourison documents (see below, page 33 of these documents). On 19 August, I was informed that the decision package is pending final review by GEN Grosso (A-1 to Sec Air Force). This is the second time I have been informed of a “final review.” I have not been told a reason for the delay or further review, leaving only speculation on my part.”

President Obama’s Trip to China and Laos, No Mention of POW/MIA Issues in White House Press Release.

The Alliance requests your help in contacting your representatives to ask President Obama to NEVER FORGET our POW/MIAs! The Administration needs to hear from you! It is important that our representatives hear we believe China and Laos need to improve their level of cooperation with the United States regarding our American POW/MIAs and recovery of our deceased service members. This is in direct support of humanitarian efforts as well as the pending resolution H. Res. Con. 56, which calls on our trade partners, like China and Laos, to observe POW/MIA recovery obligations and which has been endorsed by 51 Members of the House.

Find your Representative Using the Online Link here ( Place you zip code in the search finder on the linked site. Once your Representative is found, click on your Representative’s name to follow the link to their website whereby you can find all of their contact information (mailing and e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers).

Please review the August Bits 'N' Pieces to see the Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Trip to China and Laos.

Cuba and Our POWs from the Vietnam War.

Please find the link to our July issue of Bits n Pieces.

A huge thank you to Mr. Mike Benge for his decades of research on this topic. Mr. Benge has been interviewed several times regarding the Cuban involvement during the Vietnam War. His work was used in the Judicial Watch lawsuit for DoD records on the topic.

Mr. Benge spent 11 years in Vietnam, over five years as a prisoner of war--1968-73, and is a diligent follower of the affairs of the region. While serving as a civilian Foreign Service Officer, he was captured in South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese, and held in numerous camps in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam. He spent 27 months in solitary confinement and one year in a "black box." For efforts in rescuing several Americans before being captured, he received the Department of State's highest award for heroism and a second one for valor. He is an active Board Member of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Servicemen.

20th Anniversary of the Khobar Towers Attack.

The Alliance is honoring today, on the 20th Anniversary, those killed and injured during the Khobar Towers Bombing. There were 19 United States Air Force personnel killed and 498 personnel from various countries injured during the June 25th, 1996 bombing.

The Khobar Towers attack was the deadliest attack targeting U.S. forces since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines' barracks in Beirut that killed 220 Marines. Targeted by terrorist bombers, Khobar Towers, housed 2,000 U.S. military personnel assigned to the King Abdul Aziz Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

The service members had been stationed there in order to patrol the no-fly zone in southern Iraq that had been declared after the Persian Gulf War.

On Jun 25th, around 10:00 pm, the bombers drove a tanker truck packed with 5,000 pounds of explosives near the complex and then jumped into waiting vehicles, escaping just before detonation. The truck blasted the face off Bldg. 131. The explosion was so loud that it was heard up to 20 miles away and so powerful that it left a crater 85 feet wide and 35 feet deep.

Killed in the attack were:

Captain Christopher Adams Captain Leland Haun Master Sergeant Michael G. Heiser Master Sergeant Kendall K. Kitson Technical Sergeant Daniel B. Cafourek Technical Sergeant Patrick P. Fennig Technical Sergeant Thanh V. Nguyen Staff Sergeant Ronald King Staff Sergeant Kevin Johnson Sergeant Millard D. Campbell Senior Airman Earl R. Cartrette Jr Senior Airman Jeremy A. Taylor Airman 1st Class Christopher Lester Airman 1st Class Brent E. Marthaler Airman 1st Class Brian W. McVeigh Airman 1st Class Peter W. Morgera Airman 1st Class Joseph E. Rimkus Airman 1st Class Justin Wood Airman 1st Class Joshua E. Woody

Freedom is not free. Thank you for your service and commitment to keeping the United States free. May the families of the fallen and the survivors of the attack find peace.

If you are interested in a case study on this event please find the Air War College Research Report by Robert L . Creamer, Jr, Lt Col, USMC and James C. Seat, Lt Col, USAF; entitled “KHOBAR TOWERS: THE AFTERMATH AND IMPLICATIONS FOR COMMANDERS”.

DPAA Change in Leadership.


As promised on Friday here is the Alliance’s official statement in regards to the Mr. Lennington’s resignation from DPAA.

Korean-Cold War Families of the Missing May Newsletter

We are happy to share the May newsletter from our friends at the Korean-Cold War Families of the Missing. They are the families--sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, sons and daughters--of the men who went to war and have yet to return, or be accounted for from the ‘Forgotten War.’

A few of their representatives will be presenting at our Annual Meeting on 28 May 2016 at the Hyatt in Crystal City (VA). Please read their newsletter and come join us in a few weeks to learn more about our Korean-Cold War POW/MIAs.

CALL TO ACTION: H. Res. 590 to Establish a Select Committee On POW/MIA Affairs.

Call To Action!

Help Us Pass H.Res. 590

Co Sponsors are Needed for this Legislation. Freshman Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., has proposed a new select congressional committee to investigate of all the unresolved matters relating to any United States personnel unaccounted for from the Vietnam era, the Korean conflict, World War II, Cold War Missions, Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation Enduring Freedom, including MIA's and POW's missing and captured.

Please see the link below to access our CALL TO ACTION with information about H. Res. 590 and how you can help by writing, calling, and e-mailing your Representatives. A sample letter for your use is also included in the CALL TO ACTION.

History of Ross Perot and POW/MIAs: .

On December 21, 1969, Dallas entrepreneur H. Ross Perot chartered a Braniff International Boeing 707-327C Intercontinental Jet registered as N7097 to carry gifts and supplies for United States Military Prisoners of War in Vietnam. The charter was successful in that it brought worldwide attention to the plight and treatment of US POW's and pressured North Vietnam into providing improved living conditions.

Dallas millionaire Ross Perot chartered a Braniff Boeing 707-327C Intercontinental Fan Jet N7097 dubbed PEACE ON EARTH to fly 1400 complete meals and other supplies to Hanoi for Vietnam POWs. The Girard/Harper and George PANAGRA Green painted 707 flight left Dallas Love Field on December 21, 1969 for Honolulu, Wake, Hong Kong and then Bangkok and finally Vientiane in the country of Laos. Here the tour learned that the North Vietnamese or NVA would not let them land in Hanoi. The group then returned to Bangkok via private plane to regroup and meet with North Vietnamese Embassy Officials.

To read more, please check out the full article.

This month’s Bits ’N’ Pieces is related to Robert Alan "Bob" Levinson. Bob was born 10 March 1948 and went missing on 9 March 2007. This year marks the 9 year anniversary of his capture. Levinson has been held captive longer than any American civilian in our history — longer than then-AP journalist Terry Anderson, who was held more than six years in Beirut in the 1980's.

Bataan Death March History.

The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a special group of World War II heroes.

These brave soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. The conditions they encountered and the aftermath of the battle were unique. They fought in a malaria-infested region, surviving on half or quarter rations with little or no medical help. They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.

Marchers come to this memorial event for many reasons – personal challenge, the spirit of competition or to foster esprit de corps in their unit. Some march in honor of a family member or a particular veteran who was in the Bataan Death March or was taken a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.

Source and for more information on the Bataan Memorial Death March:

John Hartley Robertson and the Documentary “Unclaimed”: We have decided to place a Note on this topic as just a few short weeks ago an old (2013) article was making the rounds on Facebook about the documentary Unclaimed. A more recent article dated 26 January 2016 has begun to circulate about this documentary as well. We will provide links to articles at the bottom of this note for review but wanted to document in one place, information throughout the years that has surrounded this story. We are posting because this continues to resurface around the Internet via e-mail and Facebook forums. We want to ensure the FACTUAL accounting of our POW/MIAs. Articles never fade from the internet and resurface time and time again. The plight of our POW/MIAs is one that tugs at the heart and psyche and this also has made the POW/MIA topic a target for those who wish to defraud the US Government, family members and concerned citizens by selling fake information or artifacts or passing off impostors as a POW/MIAs.

Recently the Tahlequah Daily Press in Oklahoma did a three part series on the WWII era German POW camp located at Camp Gruber in Oklahoma. The series is called “German POWs had ‘good time’ while at Gruber” and we have listed each of the links to the series of articles below. It is an interesting point in our own WWII history and very few modern news articles exist about these camps. Hence, why we thought we would share the articles.

During the course of World War II Camp Gruber provided training to infantry, field artillery, and tank destroyer units that went on to fight in Europe. Units of the segregated 333rd 969th Field Artillery Battalions (who fought from Utah Beach through Liberation Day. The 333rd & 969th would be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their role in fighting side-by-side with the 101st Airborne Division Artillery) and 88th Infantry Division ("Blue Devil Division") trained at Camp Gruber. In 1943, the 42nd Infantry Division ("Rainbow Division") was reactivated at Gruber. In 1945, the 86th Infantry Division ("Blackhawk Division") was stationed there pending deactivation at the end of the war. For more information, please read the full article.

Ben Steele: Bataan Death March Survivor, former POW, and artist.

Benjamin Charles Steele was born in Roundup, Montana, in 1917, the son of ranchers. Life on the ranch was difficult but there were good times, too. Ben enjoyed hunting and fishing with his father, but didn't like going to school very much. He would rather be riding his horse. Often, he would raise his hand for permission to go to the bathroom (an outhouse). Once he was outside, he would saddle up his horse and head home. This wasn't very popular with either his mom or the teacher.

The stock market crash in 1929 coupled with a severe drought in the early 30's, meant financial hardships for the Steele family. Unable to make enough money on the ranch or to find another job, Ben's father set up a still in the mountains and began to bootleg whiskey. The money from that operation kept the family going for about three years. After his father was arrested for bootlegging and was sent to jail, Ben and his mother kept the operation going from their house.

Ben graduated from high school in 1939, and in 1940 joined the Army Air Corps. He enjoyed his training as a recruit. Compared to the life on the ranch, it wasn't much of a challenge. He got to sleep in past 4:30 a.m., didn't have to work so hard, and the food was good. That was soon to change.

In late 1941, the 19th Bomb Group, to which Ben was assigned, was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines. At their Thanksgiving dinner that year, their Commanding Officer, Major Davis, told them to enjoy their dinner, since it might be a long time before they had another one like it. It turned out that he was right. On December 8, those stationed at Clark Field received the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. Later that night, Clark Field was bombed.

On Christmas Day, the soldiers at Clark Field were given the order to move to Bataan. There, they were on the front lines of the battle against the Japanese. Food rations were cut in half, and medicine was scarce. The soldiers killed and ate all of the domestic animals they could find, and stripped the fruit trees. They were constantly hungry. By April 9, when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, the soldiers were in poor shape physically, and were disillusioned because of the lack of support from the U.S. government.

For more information on Mr. Steele’s story and his artwork please see his site: Ben Steele Website

Passing of Former POW Nathan Henry.

We here at the Alliance would like to recognize the passing of former POW Nathan Henry. Nathan (Nat) Henry was born in 1947 in Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina. He was drafted into the U.S. Army on September 13, 1966, and was trained as an infantryman at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Henry deployed to Southeast Asia in February 1967 and was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam. Henry was captured during a firefight with the Viet Cong near the Cambodian border on July 12, 1967, and was held as a Prisoner of War in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and North Vietnam over the next 6 years. After spending 2,063 days in captivity, SSG Henry was released during Operation Homecoming on March 5, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and was medically retired from the Army on July 26, 1973. He passed away on 11 Jan 2016. His burial with honors took place on 17 Jan 2016. His Silver Star Citation reads: Staff Sergeant Nathan B. Henry distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action as a Prisoner of War in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 6 November 1967. With profound courage and a strong conviction in the Code of Conduct he escaped from an enemy prisoner of war camp, knowing that the odds for success were slight and that if recaptured he would receive torture and long periods in solitary confinement. The success of his escape was short lived, and he was recaptured and punished. This soldier's actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military services and reflected great credit on himself and the United States Army.

The link below will take you to a video showing excerpts from the Graveside Rites as performed by various veterans and active duty personnel on January 17, 2016. Nathan B. Henry was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Burningtown Baptist Church. Video ©2016 by Bobby Coggins.

Library of Congress’ Vietnam War POW/MIA Database: There are many people interested in looking at information regarding names of people they knew, served with, may be related to, or wore a bracelet of from the Vietnam War. A good place to start online is the Library of Congress' POW/MIA Database. In December 1991, Congress enacted Public Law 102-190. The statute requires the Secretary of Defense to make available to the public--in a "library like setting"--all information relating to the treatment, location, and/or condition (T-L-C) of United States personnel who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The facility chosen to receive this information was the Library of Congress and the Federal Research Division created the online index to those documents, POW/MIA Database whose link is found above.