Reported To Be Alive - Abandoned In Laos

Reflection on POW/MIA Issues from Laos

Compiled by: Don Moody






Recently an acquaintance from my early days in Laos, an intell type who had spent many years in Southeast Asia, sparked my interest in Laotian POWs.  Especially when he reported that he had reliable information that Raven FACs who had been shot down were living in captivity, specifically Henry Allen.  What I found in my research on POWs and MIAs in Laos is appalling.

That we would leave anyone behind is unbelievable to me and that is why I think the following information is very important.  The U.S. Government owes the families of these POWs and MIAs a personal and official explanation.

It is significant to note that there are several reports that give the number of American prisoners held at specific locations in Laos. More significant, however, is the CIA's designation of these camps as confirmed prison camps. Why weren't these prisoners returned in 1973 and where are they today?  Someone knows the answer to these questions. The burden of responsibility to obtain answers rests squarely on the shoulders of the United States government. To date, they have not fulfilled that responsibility.

The following information was taken from the congressional record.

Two men who held the title secretary of defense during the Vietnam War
say they have reason to believe that U.S. servicemen were left behind in
James R. Schlesinger, who served as director of the Central Intelligence
Agency in 1973 and as secretary of defense in 1973-1974, told the Senate
Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs during a September 21 hearing that "I
can come to no other conclusion than those men were left behind in 1973."
But he added that he had no information that any are left alive today.
Melvin R. Laird, who served as secretary of defense from 1969-1973, told the
Panel that he had had "hard intelligence" that indicated perhaps 20 U.S.
Servicemen were held in Laos in 1973.  He said he had always had the "gut
feeling" that the lists of captive U.S. servicemen provided by the
Vietnamese had been incomplete.
Both Laird and Schlesinger pointed to the weakness of the U.S. negotiating
position with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong at the time.  Laird said
there could not have been any guarantee of a satisfactory solution if the
United States had made a public issue of the discrepancies in their own
versus the Vietnamese lists of men believed to be captive.
Winston Lord, who worked for Henry Kissinger at both the National Security
Council and the State Department during the 1970s, told the committee that
1he final peace agreement between the United States and North Vietnam "was
the best possible one at the time, given the mood in America and the
pressures on the U.S. side.
"The president in the end decided not to scuttle the agreement and resume
the war over the MIA (missing-in-action) question.  It was a very difficult
Decision.  I believed then it was the correct one.  I believe that still.  We
did not have conclusive proof...although we had strongly suggestive
intelligence that the lists were incomplete.  American public opinion would
have blown apart if the president overturned the agreement and resumed the
The Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs will hold its
last round of hearings December 1-4, Chairman John F. Kerry (Democrat of
Massachusetts) and Vice Chairman Bob Smith (Republican of New Hampshire)
announced November 27.
Following is the text of their statement:
“The hearings will focus on progress made on working with families and in
conducting operations in Southeast Asia since the Committee began its
investigation last November.  The hearings also will examine private
efforts on behalf of POW/MIAs, and take a critical took at intelligence

Perhaps it can all be summed up by a statement made by a former POW: "I was prepared to fight, to be wounded, to be captured and even prepared to die, but I was not prepared to be abandoned."

Live-Sighting Reports











On 4 July 1969, Colonel Patrick Fallon, Vice Commander of the 56th SOW, was checking out enemy activity near the town of Xieng Khouang at the edge of the Plain of Jars in Northern Laos.  He was the lead aircraft in a flight of two A-1s, Firefly 26 and 27.

Colonel Fallon took his plane down low to observe the Pathet Lao positions, circled and came back for another pass.  Colonel Fallon’s plane was hit by enemy ground fire while flying only about 100 feet above ground, but Fallon was able to successfully bail out.  Colonel Fallon reached the ground safely between two 4500 foot ridges.  He was able to maintain radio contact with the SAR aircraft circling above, but they were unable to rescue him because of intense enemy ground fire in the area.  Finally the enemy began to converge on Colonel Fallon’s position, and his last transmission was "Put it all around me, I'm hit."  Through the years, reports have surfaced referring to Fallon as a prisoner of war in

By late 1979, the evidence was clear that American POWs remained alive in Laos.  Intercepted communist transmissions concerning their U.S. captives had electrified the Pentagon. "Col. Picinich [of the DIA] was visibly excited about these events.  It is the opinion of that office that U.S. POWs were in fact still alive in Southeast Asia," wrote a Pentagon official following a December 12, 1979, briefing on the intercepted messages.

The signals' intelligence was backed up by strong evidence from human sources.  The Pentagon had begun receiving several reports of U.S. POWs in a specific area of Laos.  One of the U.S. sources was described as "a sensitive source with unusually good access.  This "sensitive source", reportedly a Laotian woman with access to top government officials, provided a series of reports detailing the presence of up to 30 American POWs at the camp.

In November 1979, a second source confirmed there were American POWs in the camp.  The source, who passed a polygraph exam, reportedly got the information from a guard at the camp, who said one of the POWs was "Lt.Col. Paul W. Mercland". There is no POW/MIA with that name, but experts thought the name might really be a garbled version of Air Force POW/MIA Paul W. Bannon, American.  It was later learned that the CIA also had a report of a Caucasian prisoner at the camp, but apparently did not share its intelligence with the Pentagon.

Following the lead of their human sources, the Pentagon soon trained its satellites on the region. There was an immediate hit.  The imagery confirmed the location of a mysteriously isolated prison in the region. Based on the photography, CIA analysts determined the camp had been built between April 1978 and September 1979, and was occupied by December 1980.  The camp, whose rustic features soon earned it the Pentagon nickname "Fort Apache", was located in a clearing off Route 12.

It was divided into inner and outer areas, both protected by stockade-type fences.  The outer fence was about six to ten feet high.  Behind the outer wall were fields of crops, guard barracks, a trench, a machine-gun nest, and two observation towers.  The towers, with platforms 10 to 12 feet above the ground, were positioned so guards could look into the camp.  The inner compound, also surrounded by a tall fence, contained five buildings, including two large barracks. The CIA analysts confirmed that the camp was designed to keep people in, rather than keeping guerillas or animals out.

There were two other striking things about the camp:

  1. First, according to some reports, the photos indicated that some of the prisoners were much taller than others in the camp, and rested by sitting with their ankles crossed rather than squatting Asian-style. They also used tools which were too big for the average Laotian.
  2. The second remarkable thing about the camp could be seen in the vegetable plots between the inner and outer fences. It was what appeared to be a big "52".  "Each number is 1-2 meters wide and 3 meters high. The two numerals are such that they most likely cannot be seen from either of the two observation towers, because of trees located in the line of sight," the CIA reported.

In addition, it appeared possible that the letter "K" followed the "52".  In other words, it looked as if someone had hacked a signal into the ground that could be seen from the air, but not from the camp's guard towers.  The CIA said "That it is conceivable that it represents an attempt by a prisoner to signal to any aircraft that might pass overhead."

The significance of the "K" was clear - it was a sign used by downed American pilots to signal distress.  The "52", although a much clearer signal, had a more elusive meaning.  Some experts thought it represented the number of POWs in the camp.  Others believed it was intended to show B-52 bomber crewmen were being held.

Years later, one source claimed that "52" was a symbol used by U.S. briefers on maps of Vietnam during the war to denote U.S. POWs camps, so they wouldn't be bombed by B-52 crews.  Whatever it meant, the "52" was clearly a man-made signal in a camp reported by other sources to hold U.S. POWs.

NOTE: The DIA agreed the "52" was man-made when it was first detected, but later claimed it was really just a coincidental feature of the landscape.

The satellite photos set the Pentagon scrambling - But it was already too late.  The POWs had been moved.  Perhaps the communists learned of America's interest in "Fort Apache". Or maybe they were just practicing good scrutiny.  But the "sensitive source" reported that because of security concerns, the POWs were moved from Laos to Vietnam by the end of January 1981.

The NSA (National Security Agency) had already reported an intercepted communist radio transmission, which, if not referring to the Nhom Marrot prisoners, reflected concerns about other U.S. POWs.  The transmission went out on Dec. 27, 1980: "Refer to the Politburo, Ministry of Defense, that because U.S. and Thai POWs have been identified by [CENSORED] they will be removed from Attopeu Province. Aircraft will pick up POWs at the airfield on 28 December at 12:30 hours.  By February 1981, the "52" had begun to fade away at "Fort Apache"

For the past 30 years, there has been nothing more tantalizing for POW/MIA families than reports that Americans have been seen alive in Southeast Asia and nothing more frustrating than the failure of these reports to become manifest in the form of a returning American.








A live-sighting report is just that--a report that an American has been seen alive in Laos in circumstances which are not readily explained. Such is the case of Captains Henry Allen (In the Photo) and Richard Elzinga Raven FACs shot down in 1970. The report could come from a refugee, boat person, traveler or anyone else in a position to make such an observation. The information could be first-hand or hearsay; it could involve one American or many; it could be detailed or vague; it could be recent or as far back as the end of the war.

What makes things difficult is the Ravens were part of a classified project and their being in-country as combatants was Top Secret.  This made it difficult to negotiate for someone who in theory wasn’t there.

Abandoned in Laos

Roger Hall a pre-Vietnam veteran and an information researcher wrote the following report. He has been involved in POW/MIA research since 1993 and is a graduate student at the University of Maryland, University College. The following information first appeared in the Conservative Review.


American POWs known to have been held captive by the communist Pathet Lao were abandoned in Laos in 1973. When the United States withdrew the last of our fighting forces from Vietnam on March 28, 1973, Americans that were then prisoners from secret operations in Laos during the Vietnam War were abandoned to the Lao Patriotic Front, the political group of whom the Pathet Lao were the fighting forces. This was the result, not the intent, of withdrawing U.S. troops under the Paris Peace Agreement to secure the release of the named POWs; it is also the result of not negotiating with the LPF for prisoners they held in the mistaken belief that north Vietnam would deliver them to us.
The Laotians have made proving that Americans are in captivity there difficult at best and seemingly impossible under international law. The communists are masters at keeping and hiding American POWs. They have it down to a science. At the suspicion that a location was known or would become known because of an escape or for any other reason, American prisoners would be moved. Prisoners were held in the most secure areas where they were under heavy guard by troops. They were usually held in caves that also served military functions where they could be hidden, controlled and protected from recovery.  NOTE:  This
may be the case of Sam Deichelman, a Raven FAC who disappeared on a flight from SVN to his base in Laos in September of 1968.





















No one captured by the Pathet Lao during the war was ever released. Only two Americans escaped and were recovered from the Pathet Lao during the Vietnam War. Navy Lt. Charles Klussman, shot down on June 6, 1964 over the Plain of Jars, had the fortunate distinction of being the first POW to escape from the Pathet Lao. Navy Pilot Dieter Dengler, shot down on February 2, 1965, was captured by the Pathet Lao and held prisoner with two Americans; Gene Debruin, a civilian, and Lt. Duane Martin, a helicopter pilot. Martin was reported by Dengler as possibly killed while evading after the escape.  President Nixon in 1973 was under great pressure from the U.S. Congress, the POW/MIA family members and the public to bring the war to an end and have the POWs released.  Congress had passed the Cooper-Church Amendment that cut off all funding for further military action, which prevented enforcement of the Paris Peace Agreement.

Due to the public's demand to end the war, delayed release of the known POWs was not a risk that the administration decision makers were likely to take. No one informed the Congress or the American people that there were captives that had not been released from
Southeast Asia and the country turned its back on the POWs in Laos. As the years passed from 1973, the fate of these individuals seemingly became less and less important.


The Secret War in Laos

The United States fought a secret war in
Laos in support of the Royal Laotian Government from 1962 through 1973 against the communist Pathet Lao.  Laos was in the North Vietnamese theater of operations, where the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao fought battles against the U.S.-supported noncommunist Laotians. Under the 1962 Geneva Agreement, both the U.S. and the North Vietnamese were obliged not to position regular combat troops in Laos.

This secret war was managed by the military role of the CIA out of the American Embassy in
Vientiane, Laos, under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador.  Presidential authority authorized the ambassador to manage and conduct military operations that included U.S. military aircraft and personnel, but excluded the U.S. military from any decision making in their use. The separate though interrelated bombing of Hanoi's supply pipeline to their forces in South Vietnam using the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos was under the control of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV).
The Paris Peace Agreement was signed on
January 27, 1973 and the names of POWs captured in Vietnam were given to U.S. representatives. On February 1, U.S. negotiators exchanged a letter form President Nixon agreeing to pay the Vietnamese $3.25 billion in reconstruction aid in return for the un-negotiated "Laos list" of names of American POWs captured in Laos who were to be released. The $3.25 billion was for reconstruction in Vietnam; there was no consideration for Laos.

Although North Vietnamese forces controlled over 85% of the territory in
Laos where Americans were missing in action and had advisors attached to all Pathet Lao units, the list handed over by the North Vietnamese contained the names of only nine Americans and one Canadian POW captured in Laos and held in Hanoi. These were the only POWs from Laos to be released. There was "a firm and unequivocal understanding that all American prisoners in Laos will be released within 60 days of the signing of the Vietnam agreement."

U.S. knew that the Pathet Lao had information on many of the American POW/MIAs in Laos.  Of the 10 POWs released under the Vietnam agreement, none were from Pathet Lao POW camps, and the Pathet Lao insisted that they held prisoners in Laos that would only be released by them. The fighting between the Royal Laotian Government and Pathet Lao ended when the Laos cease-fire was signed by the Laotian Parties in Vientiane on February 21, 1973.  The agreement stated that 60 days after the coalition government was formed all POWs would be released.  This was the fall-back agreement the U.S. hoped to use to have U.S. POWs held in Laos released. This was in addition to the Paris Peace Accords.


The Pathet Lao were under the direct military supervision of their communist North Vietnamese cadres, even more so than the South Vietnamese and the Royal Laotian Government were under the influence of the United States. During the peace negotiations, Henry Kissinger had insisted that the Vietnamese be responsible for all prisoners in Southeast Asia. This had been one of the points Le Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese negotiator, would not agree to, claiming that Laos was a sovereign nation and would be responsible for their own prisoners. Although the North Vietnamese did then and possibly now influence the POW/MIA policy of Laos, efforts for the release of known POWs from the Pathet Lao failed.

Record of U.S. POWs in Laos

Vietnam War era CIA reports state that American POWs captured in
Northern Laos are "escorted to prisons in Houa Phan/Sam Nuea/province where they are detained on a semi-permanent basis or transferred to North Vietnam." What follows here are reports of Pathet Lao held POWs in the Laotian theater of operations and does not include the MACV area of operations in Laos. The Pathet Lao held American POWs in numerous locations, including the Pathet Lao Headquarters at Sam Nuea and at more than one location at Ban Nakay.  Declassified CIA documents from 1967-1972 show that there were up to 60 or more U.S. POWs held by the Pathet Lao during the Vietnam War who were never released.

Reports entitled "Enemy Prisons in Laos," "Estimated Enemy Prison Facilities in Laos," and "Estimated Enemy Prison Order of Battle in Laos" provide information from sources on communist Pathet Lao POW camps holding prisoners described as Pilots, Caucasian and American.  Reports were updated as new intelligence was obtained.

There is also a 1969 Seventh Air Force report "POW Camps Listing for Laos", describing all locations listed that had been validated for inclusion by appropriate authority at the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane in coordination with the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC).  The JPRC was responsible for the reporting and tracking of all missing and captured Americans under the code name "BRIGHT LIGHT". Another report, the "1972 Fleet Intelligence Center Pacific, Laos Prisoner of War Camp Study", is a compilation of overhead photographic imagery of all known POW Camps in
Laos. These two reports incorporated the CIA intelligence products, and were backed up with the original source reports.


Known and Suspected American POWs Under Pathet Lao Control:
(Listed by year, organization and number of POWs)

1966 - CIA - 8 American POWs
1967 - CIA - 15 American POWs
1968 - CIA - 13 American POWs
1969 - CIA - 45 American POWs
1969 - USAF - 61 American POWs
1970 - CIA - 28-30 American POWs
1971 - CIA - 24-30 American POWs
1972 NAVY high altitude photography of known and suspected POW Camps in Laos was not released.










CIA POW/MIA reporting decreased after 1969. This was at a time when the military was still losing aircraft and pilots and others, both civilian and military, were being lost on the ground. Many POW camps had been observed for long periods of time, some for years. On March 11, 1968, the communists attacked a U.S. Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) and a TSQ 81 RADAR bomb facility at Phu Pha Thi, also known as Lima Site 85, in northern Laos. General Singkapo, the former commander of all Pathet Lao Forces during the war is quoted in an August 21, 1990, interview with Dr. Timothy Castle, author of At War in the Shadow of Vietnam, as saying that about 100 Pathet Lao and more than 200 North Vietnamese attacked Lima Site 85 and that two or three Americans were captured at the site and sent to Vietnam.  Also in 1968, reports were received by the CIA in Laos that all American POWs were being sent to Hanoi for a prisoner exchange. Twenty-seven Americans that were held prisoner by the Pathet Lao in four different POW camps were moved to Ban Hang Long, Houa Phan Province, and were supposed to represent all Americans held by the Pathet Lao. CIA POW reporting shown above indicates not all were sent.

October 11, 1969, overhead photography taken by a Buffalo Hunter reconnaissance drone of Ban Nakay Teu, revealed 20 non-Asians accompanied by Pathet Lao guards near caves at Ban Nakay Teu.  CIA analysis of the prisoners determined them to be Caucasian. There had been numerous ground reports identifying these people as Americans both prior to and after the overhead reconnaissance.

In 1971, Secretary of Defense Laird was not satisfied with the limited information he was receiving on the POWs in
Laos. He sent General Vessey to Laos to assist in operations there and offer military intelligence assets in the gathering of POW/MIA information.  U.S. Ambassador to Laos, G. McMurtrie Godley, refused the offer of military intelligence assistance and informed DOD that all POW reporting requirements could be handled by the embassy.

President Nixon was notified by Henry Kissinger at the White House on
March 19, 1973, that "The U.S. Embassy in Vientiane has been told by the Pathet Lao that the U.S. prisoners of war in Laos will be released by the Lao Communists in Laos and not by the Vietnamese in Hanoi."

On March 22, Ambassador Godley cabled the Secretary of State and the White House that "We believe the Laotian Popular Front (LPF) holds throughout
Laos more prisoners than are found on the North Vietnamese lists. We do not believe it is reasonable to expect the LPF to be able to produce an accurate total POW list by March 28; the LPF just has not focused on the POW repatriation and accounting problem until very recently and probably cannot collect in the next few days, the information we require." It was realized, based on the number of people known to have been alive on the ground and captured, that additional prisoners should be released from Laos. Admiral Moorer, on Presidents Nixon's authority, ordered a halt to the troop withdrawal because the Pathet Lao had not released any of the expected POW/MIAs. The next day the Four Party Joint Military Commission informed the White House of the North Vietnamese position that the U.S. "must bear full responsibility for any delay in return of POWs."


Ambassador Godley advised the State Department and the White House to get the nine out now and we would get the rest out later, that "a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush." President Nixon reversed his decision and the troop withdrawal was resumed.


The White House memorandum for the President of March 24, 1973, from Henry Kissinger included the statement of the Chief North Vietnamese Delegate that "The question of military personnel captured in Laos can in no way be associated with the Paris Peace Agreement and withdrawal of U.S. troops." This should have been noted as a sign that the North Vietnamese were not going to adhere to their responsibility for all POWs in Southeast Asia as the President and the public had been informed." Although the Pathet Lao had insisted that "prisoners captured in Laos would be returned in Laos," the nine Americans and one Canadian whose names were on the Laos list were released at Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi on 28 March 1973. The head of the Pathet Lao delegation, Lt.Col. Thoong Sing, was present for the release of the POWs. The LPF must have been amazed, if not offended, at the refusal of the United States to seriously negotiate with them.

The withdrawal of
U.S. troops was also completed on March 28th. Our military strength was down to 5,300 troops as of March 22nd. The North Vietnamese had left 10 divisions in South Vietnam and had been bringing a continuous flow of troops and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in violation of the Paris Peace Accords.

Ambassador Godley had never spoken to the Pathet Lao spokesman Sot Petrasy, who also had the rank of Ambassador. He had repeatedly stated the Pathet Lao were not to be believed and were just lackeys of the Vietnamese, a very severe approach to have taken with those who were holding American prisoners.

Ambassador Godley accepted the Pathet Lao statement that all POWs captured in
Laos had been released to suit his requirements for the troop withdrawal and POW release under the Paris accords. The quick acceptance of the new Pathet Lao claim was in complete contradiction of the American embassy's stated 10-year position that the Pathet Lao could not be believed and would make political statements to suit their needs.

Major General Richard V. Secord, who in 1967-68 was “Chief of Air” for the CIA Station in
Laos, was called to testify before the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in 1992.  He recalled that CIA and other prison camp reports were not considered in Ambassador Godley's attempts to inquire of American POWs in Laos. The tracking by the CIA of Americans believed held captive in Laos was an ongoing task at the Embassy. The fact that Americans were being held was widely known; the problem was where were they being held, as the prisoners were moved frequently. This created some problems as prisoners who were known by name at a particular location would now become unknowns and make it almost impossible to identify specific individuals at each of the prison sites.


General Secord expressed his personal view that Americans had been left behind in Laos.  He further testified, with respect to the POW's, that the CIA had been tracking as carefully as they could all the intelligence information available on POW's in Laos, especially after it became clear that there was going to be a Paris Peace Agreement.

Secord was confident that there was a considerable number of U.S. POW's in Laos during and after the war.  For instance, there was the case of David Hrdlicka and two other POWs that were known to be held by the Pathet Lao.  General Secord had personal knowledge of these men because he was involved in an abortive attempt to rescue these guys back in late '66 or '67.  He knew that they existed and were alive because of an agent the CIA had inside the prison camp.  “We knew their names, we knew where they were.”  It must be noted that none of these POWs have ever been heard from since the Paris Accords.

However, it is known with a reasonable level of certainty, that in addition to these guys there were more of our people still held in Laos after the exchange of prisoners.  In spite of the known captivity of POWs such as Hrdlicka, Shelton, Debruin and the POW camp reporting of 20 to 60 captive Americans, it was the lack of positive identification of POWs at specific prison sites that was the deciding factor to accept the 10 POWs from Laos held in Hanoi and proceed with the prisoner exchange and troop withdrawal.

David Hrdlicka (shown in photo at time of capture), a F-105 pilot shot down on May 18, 1965, had made public statements that were published in Pathet Lao newspapers and broadcast on Pathet Lao radio. Charles Shelton was downed on April 29, 1965. These two men were known to be held together in a cave southeast of Sam Nuea.  In the CIAs attempted rescue of the men at Sam Nuea, one of them actually made it to a recovery area before being recaptured.  In another attempt, Eugene Debruin and Duane Martin escaped with Dieter Dengler but were separated from Dengler and their fate remains unknown.


















The war had been fought to decide who would rule in Laos. A U.S. decision, after the signing of the Lao cease fire, to "not complicate" Lao negotiations with the U.S. POW issue proved wrong.  Since March 1971, "The United States Government has scrupulously refrained from introducing complicating issues such as American POWs" into the Lao internal talks. The U.S. requested in 1972 that Souvana Phouma inquire about our POWs, but the Royal Lao Government was seen as lackeys of the United States "interventionists."

Admiral Moorer informed the chief delegate of the FPJMC in
Saigon on March 23rd that "we intend to pursue the question of other U.S. personnel captured or missing in Laos following the release of the men on the 1 February List." Unfortunately, the LPF were not members of the Commission for the recovery of American MIAs as were North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the Viet Cong.

The captives held by the Pathet Lao in
Laos were left without further efforts for their release because Congress had cut off funding for further action in Southeast Asia. There was no way to enforce our demands and the communists knew it. Congress was not informed of the captive Americans from the secret war who were thought to have been sent to fight in Vietnam.

President Nixon on
March 29, 1973, stated on national television that "All of our POWs are on their way home." On April 12, deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Roger Shields announced that "DOD had no specific knowledge indicating that any U.S. personnel were still alive in and held prisoner in Southeast Asia." These two announcements signaled the end of the release of POWs under the Paris Peace Accords.

On May 18, Admiral Zumwalt, the Chief of Naval Operations, informed Admiral Thomas Moorer, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the Laotians' inability to reach political agreements "has effectively arrested any movement toward an environment in which the status of Americans missing in action in
Laos can be resolved. I am informed that the Central Intelligence Agency is pursuing a 'highest priority effort' directed at specifically determining what has happened to US MIAs in Laos. In View of the direct and personnel interest the Services have in this matter, I recommend that the JCS receive a briefing from the CIA on their effort in this area so that we may be confident this important humanitarian issue is receiving appropriate attention."

Lt. Gen. Deane, Jr., USA Acting Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency advised Admiral Moorer at the time that the CIA collection effort in
Laos is carried out by CIA assets, and within the organizational structure, of the CIA station in Laos. DIA is collaborating closely where appropriate with CIA in regard to the current situation in Laos. A summary of the present POW/MIA situation in Laos as held in DIA files is as follows:


  • At present there are approximately 350 U.S. military and civilians listed as missing in action in Laos. Of this total, approximately 215 were lost under such circumstances that the Lao Patriotic Front (LPF) probably has information regarding their fate.


  • Previous LPF mention of U.S. POWs detained in Laos includes a statement on 3 October 1967, by the Pathet Lao Radio, that between 17 May and 16 September 1967, the Pathet Lao had 'captured about a dozen U.S. pilots.















Furthermore, on 2 February 1971, LPF spokesman Sot Petrasy commented that "Quelques Dixaines." ("Some Tens") of prisoners were being held by the Pathet Lao.  The LPF has provided no accounting for U.S. personnel in its custody." The DIA was the lead POW/MIA agency and recommended that the JCS not be briefed on the covert CIA activities. The briefing never occurred. On Wednesday May 23, 1973, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho agreed that, while not stating acceptance on the U.S. statement that Article 8 (b) [POW/MIAs] applied to all of Indochina, Le Duc Tho would not contradict him publicly either. In return, the U.S. would not hold Vietnam to this because Vietnam had to cooperate with their Lao friends. This side-agreement has complicated negotiations in Laos to this very day.

Then a June 9th White House memorandum from the situation room informed Henry Kissinger that "The Pathet Lao chief representative in Vientiane told our Embassy officer that further information on two acknowledged POWs (Hrdlicka and Debruin) must await the formation of a new coalition government in Laos."


In June 1973, a White House message from Henry Kissinger to the American Embassy Charge d'Affairs John Gunther Dean stated "Le Duc Tho complained to me last week that you had mentioned US-DRV understanding regarding U.S. prisoners captured in Laos in your talk with Phoumi Vongvichit. We obviously cannot afford to give Hanoi this sort of grounds on which to abort their understanding with us."

The evidence that Americans were held in
Laos was known at the time; however, it just wasn't considered in negotiations. The National Security Council, Washington Special Action Group (WSAG) headed by Henry Kissinger, received POW information from the CIA, the State Department and the DOD, who were all members of the WSAG. But the U.S. government had a time table to keep for withdrawal of American fighting forces from Southeast Asia by March 28th under the Paris Peace Accords and the recovery of the reported Americans was put off for possible later efforts that never materialized.

The accepted loss of captured members of the U.S. armed forces and civilians by members of the U.S. government is almost beyond comprehension, but it did happen. The 27 American prisoners and other American POWs reportedly sent to North Vietnam seem also to have disappeared. They were not among the POWs on the February 1, 1973 Laos list who were never returned. Those who were returned had been captured from 1965 through 1972 and most were moved to North Vietnam at different times; the rest were withheld.

There were unusual situations in the 1968-69 time frame that could have a bearing on the POWs' fate. A possible prisoner exchange may have been in process and these men never put into the known Vietnamese prison system. That year, Richard Nixon became president and Ho Chi Minh died. The POWs could have been executed. However, they could also have been sent to the U.S.S.R. for third-country internment and/or technical exploitation.


There are reports of prisoners being transferred to other communist countries throughout the war period. One source of such reports was Jerry Mooney, a former Air Force/NSA analyst who tracked POWs moved through Vietnam and Laos and sent to Russia. The NSA had tracked POWs in Laos throughout the war and until 1975 when U.S. intelligence assets were pulled out.  Former Czech General Jan Sejna, who defected from communist Czechoslovakia, and now works for DIA has firsthand knowledge that close to 100 Americans in good physical condition were transferred from Vietnam to Russia via Czechoslovakia. He monitored the program that processed them and observed their arrival and temporary confinement there.

Post-1973 declassified documentation includes live-sighting reports and satellite imagery of pilot distress signals. Though most live-sighting cases of American POWs in Laos have been debunked, some cannot be dismissed even though the information was often dated and the follow-up slow, requiring cooperation from Laotian officials. Satellite imagery, from 1973 through the present, of
Laos reveals pilot distress signals of the form our servicemen were trained to display to signal their location and situation. Some identification codes do correlate to missing Americans.


POW/MIA Bracelets – Lest We Not Forget


In 1970, long before the Vietnam War ended, Americans were introduced to the first bracelets bearing the name, rank and incident date of an American serviceman who was listed as a Prisoner Of War or Missing In Action.  Those bracelets were the brainchild of former Congressman Robert K. "Bob" Dornan of California. Mr. Dornan, a former Air Force fighter pilot, had a good friend who was captured by the Communist Pathet Lao forces. His friend Colonel David Hendricks was a well documented POW being held in the massive cave complex near Sam Neua, Laos.

During a meeting of POW-MIA family members and concerned citizens in
California, Bob Dornan put forward an idea to modify the Montagnard friendship bracelet to one bearing the name of a missing American that would be used to publicize the plight of Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action. Representatives of VIVA (Voices In Vital America), an early POW-MIA organization in Los Angeles, saw the benefit in Dornan's idea and arranged for the production and distribution of the bracelets.  We were on the right track back in 1970, but somewhere along the line our thinking got derailed and the POW/MIA concern lost its momentum and real meaning.

Reported To Be Alive










The issue - American Prisoners Of War are alive in Laos and our Government knows it!

Summer 1991: A flood of new evidence of live POWs pours from Southeast Asia: pictures, handwriting samples, hair samples, blood samples, fingerprints, footprints, maps and other physical proof. The Bush administration disregards the evidence and attempts to discredit it by rumor and innuendo. Some of the photos are scientifically validated, however, and have never been scientifically disproved!


2 Aug 1991: President Bush says: "Until we can account for every person missing we have to run-down these leads to prove that nobody is held." The President sees it as his duty to prove Vietnam and the Pathet Lao holds none of our citizens--rather than to gain their freedom.


Jan 1992: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren: "I think we're going to see, potentially, that a lot more (POWs) were left in Laos... it's been true in administrations of both parties--when the agreements were made, and they were anxious to get agreements at the time--there were people involved that simply wanted to get the agreements and didn't want to have all the questions raised at that time... it was too embarrassing. The longer it went, the more embarrassing it got to be... A lot more information is going to come on Laos... Its things that happened over time. Then, once somebody found out how bad it was, nobody wanted to take the blow. They always thought, well. I'll hand this on to the next guy to admit that we really made a big mess... Those who knew the truth kept handing it on. There are people, obviously in the military and otherwise, in the foreign policy establishment, who feel they're going to be embarrassed now, if this comes out, and so they keep the secret... it has to come-out and it will."



Did the Pathet Lao in their “own humanitarian way" spare the lives of those they captured?  Are these men still serving some indeterminate sentence doomed to remain in
Laos for following orders as a result of a Secret War?  Laos today is a sovereign nation and the leaders in charge of the country are still those same despots who took power in 1973.  It is widely believed that joint U.S.-Laotian-Vietnamese negotiations could prove rewarding if major U.S. decision-makers would only get involved.


Just before the Paris Accords were implemented, the CIA recommended a diplomatic track and a military track to be used in case leverage was needed in securing the release of the POWs in Laos. They knew, of course that the force option would be one that would be hard for the decision makers to take given the environment that existed back in the U.S. at the time. Nonetheless, it was feasible.  Most of the diplomatic players at the time did not think that the force option was even remotely available because of Cooper-Church, but some obviously felt it was.  While military action is no longer an option, there are still those who believe that a belated but true settlement could yield much information and maybe even a survivor.


The Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTF) is tasked to examine crash sites to determine if they contain human remains that can be recovered and identified, but there appears to be little if any emphasis on locating any surviving POWs.  Even though the JTF effort is an admirable undertaking, much more is needed. The U.S. negotiating position must be changed to reflect the fact that there is substantive proof that American captives were alive in 1973 and possibly later.  Some could very well still be alive today.


I recall the favorite toast of Green Beret Colonel Floyd “Jimmy” Thompson who spent nine years as a POW in several Vietnamese prison camps.  He was recognized as the longest held POW ever.  He recently passed away at age 69:  "Here's to us, those like us, and there are damn few of us."


We need to put real meaning behind the aphorism “LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND”. Its time for us to bring our warriors home, “DEAD OR ALIVE”.


From: “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe


Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!

Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!

" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."









U.S. POW/MIAs in LAOS Who May Have Survived



Prepared by the Office of Senator Bob Smith
Vice-Chairman, Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

December 1, 1992

This listing contains the names of U.S. personnel with the possibility of being alive in captivity in Laos, last known alive, or out of their aircraft after crashing or before it crashed.  A handful of the cases involve incidents where the aircraft was later found on the ground with no signs of the crew. This listing is based on all-source U.S. intelligence and casualty reports, information provided by POWs who were returned, lists of POWs and/or last known alive personnel prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other information made available to the Vice-Chairman, Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.  Based on the high number of MIAs at the end of the war who are still unaccounted for, it is probable that a significant percentage of the MIAs actually survived their incident and could have been captured.  Apparently, only the Vietnamese and Laotians would know their fate, as the U.S. Government does not.  Given this reality, the list of names which follows is at best conservative and only contains names of MIAs known to have gone down in Laos.

Please Note:  The men listed have all been administratively declared dead at Presumptive Finding of Death [PFOD] hearings, as have ALL POW/MIAs. These hearings occurred from one year after date of loss through September, 1994, at which time the "last" P.O.W., Charles E. Shelton, was declared dead.  All status designations of POW or MIA were then changed to PFOD or KIA/BNR. All military personnel listed here can be found among the casualties on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


** There are seven Raven FACs on this list of possible survivors.

Adam, John G.                   USAF    Laos, name mentioned by Soviet
                                        correspondent. (NSA correlation)
** Allen, Henry L.                      USAF    Laos, believed to have
                                        successfully got out of his
                                        aircraft and was alive on the
                                        ground. Last report mid 1980s.
Ard, Randolph J.                USA     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Surviv Code 1)
Armstrong, John W.              USAF    Laos, known captured.
                                        Interviewed by Soviet
                                        correspondent. (NSA intercept
Ayers, Richard L.               USAF    -Laos, possible correlation as
                                        POW in Cu Loc and Zoo prisons
                                        according to hearsay information
                                        provided by POW returnee Leo
                                        Hyatt H097)
                                        -Shoot-down of aircraft
                                        confirmed by Hanoi radio with no
                                        mention of fate of the crew.
Baker, Arthur D.                USAF    Laos, believed to have
                                        successfully got out of his
                                        aircraft and was alive on the
                                        ground. Last known alive (DoD
                                        April 1991 list)
Balcom, Ralph C.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Bannon, Paul W.                 USAF    Laos, possible correlation to
                                        live-sighting information and
                                        intelligence pertaining to 1981
                                        Nhom marrot activities (25 June
                                        1981 Defense Department
                                        closed-door testimony)
Barden, Howard L.               USAF    Laos. survival possible, DIA
                                        1979 rpt.
Bogiages, Christos C.           USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Bouchard, Micahel               USN     Laos, possible POW in good
                                        health according to notes
                                        obtained in prison by POW
                                        returnee Roger Miller. The name
                                        "Boucher" was passed.
Brandenberg, Dale               USAF    Laos, EC47Q, Baron 52, believed
                                        to have been captured according
                                        to analysts in 1973 based on NSA
                                        intelligence reports.
Brashear, William J.            USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive. (DoD April 1991 list)
Breuer, Donald C.               USMC    Laos, good parachute reported by
                                        enemy reports they are
                                        attempting capture according to
                                        NSA intercept correlation.
Brown, George R.                USA     Laos, known to be alive on the
                                        ground during helicopter
                                        exfiltration. When the rope
                                        ladder broke and hostile forces
                                        approached, the helicopter
                                        departed leaving Brown and
                                        Huston, alive and unwounded.
                                        Search team inserted four days
                                        later. No sign of Brown or
                                        Huston. (JCRC report)
Brown, Robert M.                USAF    Laos/NVN, Captured alive
                                        according to same day
                                        intelligence report indicating
                                        capture of pilot(s) of a low
                                        flying aircraft in same location
                                        and giving orders to "conceal
                                        the accomplishment." (No other
                                        shootdowns correlate to this
                                        report.) Intelligence report one
                                        week later requested special
                                        Vietnamese team to transport the
                                        hulk of an F-111. NSA analyst
                                        recalls Brown on list of POWs
                                        moved to Sam Neua for movement
                                        to USSR.  Brown's military ID
                                        card has surfaced in good
                                        condition at military museum in
                                        Vinh. NVN defector states intact
                                        portion of F-111 sent to China
                                        same month as Brown shoot-down,
                                        NVN photographers not allowed to
                                        keep photos of the F-111.
Brownlee, Charles R.            USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
** Bunker, Park G.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Burnett, Sheldon J.             USA     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Bynum, Neil S.                  USAF    Laos, one pilot parachuted and
                                        probably captured according to
                                        NSA intercept correlation.                                    
Carlock, Ralph L.               USAF    -Laos, POW, captured by PL forces
                                        according to FBIS intercepted PL
                                        radio communication.
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive. (DoD April 1991 list)
Carr, Donald Gene               USA     Laos, reported as POW (DoD DOI
                                        Rpt. July 1971)
** Carroll, John L.             USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
** Chestnut, Joseph L.          USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -captured according to NVN
                                        records. (source: Bob Destatte,
                                        Bill Bell JTF-FA
                                        -sighted alive in captivity
                                        after the war. Source: Bill
                                        Bell, JTF-FA. Remains returned
Clarke, Fred L.                  USAF   Laos, one parachute observed
                                        from mid-air collision, possible
                                        correlation. (DIA report, 1979)
Clarke, George W.               USAF    -Laos/VN, hostile captured. (DoD
                                        June 1973 list)
                                        -listed as POW by DIA, 1973.
                                        -last known alive, Laos. (DoD
                                        April 1991 list)
Coady, Robert F.                USAF    Laos, hearsay POW - Rumble
                                        debrief. (DIA 3 Oct. 1969, State
                                        25 Sept. 1969)
Cohron, James D.                USA     Laos, last known alive (DoD
                                        April 1991 list)
Cornwell, Leroy J.              USAF    Laos, name reported by POW
                                        returnee Arthur Cormier. (JSSA).
Creed, Barton S.                USN     -Laos, voice contact on ground,
                                        DIA 1973. "may have been
                                        captured" DIA rpt. 1979.
                                        -JTF-FA Survive Code 1 (13 March
                                        -listed as POW by DIA, 1973
                                        -last known alive (DoD April
                                        1991 list)
                                        -NSA intercept correlation.
Cressman, Peter R.              USAF    Laos, EC47Q, Baron 52, believed
                                        to have been captured according
                                        to analysts in 1973 based on NSA
                                        intelligence reports.
Cristman, Frederick L.          USA     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Danielson, Benjamin F.          USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Davidson, David A.              USA     Laos, captured alive by enemy
                                        forces according to NSA/DIA
                                        intercept correlation.
Davis, Edgar F.                 USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Debruin, Eugene H.                      Laos, pilot of a C-46. Shown
                                        alive in photo.
Dinan, David T.                 USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Duckett, Thomas A.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
** Elzinga, Richard K.          USAF    Laos, believed to have
                                        successfully got out of his
                                        aircraft and was alive on the
Fallon, Patrick M.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Fors, Gary H.                   USMC    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Fryer, Bruce C.                 USN     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Galbraith, Russell D.           USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Garcia, Ricardo M.              USA     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Gassman, Fred A.                USA     Laos, captured alive by enemy
                                        forces according to NSA/DIA
                                        intercept correlation.
Gates, James W.                 USA     -Laos, radio contact on ground.
                                        (DIA rpt.)
                                        -out of aircraft before crash
                                        (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive. (DoD April 1991 list)
Gould, Frank A.                 USAF    -Laos, alive and waiting rescue
                                        according to Giroux, Peter J.
                                        returnee debrief G104.
                                        -SAR team reported seeing mirror
                                        flashes from area where rest of
                                        crew was picked up, but
                                        nightfall prevented further
                                        rescue attempts (JCRC).
                                        -parachuted onto hill, awaiting
                                        rescue, voice contact and beeper
                                        heard. Ground search following
                                        day found helmet and parachute,
                                        but no sign of Gould.
                                        -Gould is the subject of
                                        live-sighting reports from Laos
                                        in the 1990's. (DIA Stoney Beach
Grace, James W.                 USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        Attempted rescue unsuccessful.
                                        family member post-capture
                                        identification in Communist
                                        propaganda film. (PL guard)
Greenwood, Robert R.            USAF    -Laos, POW at "Zoo" prison in
                                        Vietnam according to second hand
                                        info -- see Brunhaver B102
                                        -out of aircraft before crash.
                                        JTF-FA Survive Code 1
Helwig, Roger D.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
** Herold, Richard W.           USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Hesford, Peter D.               USAF    Laos, believed to have
                                        successfully got out of his
                                        aircraft and was alive on the
                                        ground. Last known alive. (DoD
                                        April 1991 list)
Hess, Frederick W.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA survive Code 1)
Holland, Melvin A.              USAF    Laos, possibly captured, based
                                        on report the following day by
                                        Tahi survivor of Lima Site 85
                                        incident, and comments by former
                                        PL General Singkapo in 1991,
                                        whose subsequent recanting
                                        remains suspect. (Both sources
                                        stated three Americans were
                                        captured by NVN troops during
                                        the incident.)
Holmes, David H.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 2)
                                        Search and Rescue unable to
                                        locate pilot (DIA 1979 report)
Hrdlicka, David L.              USAF    POW in Laos, voice recording and
                                        P.L./Pravda photograph including
                                        his name.
                                        -letter signed by Hrdlicka while
                                        in captivity appeared in NVN/PL
Hunter, Russell P.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Huston, Charles G.              USA     Laos, known to be alive on the
                                        ground during helicopter
                                        exfiltration. When the rope
                                        ladder broke and hostile forces
                                        approached, the helicopter
                                        departed leaving Brown and
                                        Huston, alive and unwounded.
                                        Search team inserted four days
                                        later. No sign of Brown or
                                        Huston. (JCRC report)
** Jackson, Paul V.             USAF    Laos, known captured according
                                        to NSA intercept correlation.
                                        (L19, 01D)
Johnston, Steven B.             USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Ketchie, Scott D.               USMC    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 2)
                                        -known captured according to NSA
                                        intercept correlation.
Kiefel, Ernest P.               USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1
Kryszak, Theodore E.            USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
Kubley, Roy R.                  USAF    Laos, survival possible
                                        according to DIA 1979 analytical
LaFayette, John W.              USA     -Laos, radio contact on ground.
                                        (DIA 1979 report)
                                        -out of aircraft before crash.
                                        (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive (DoD April 1991 list)
Lemon, Jeffrey C.               USAF    Laos, possibly captured alive,
                                        according to NSA intercept
                                        correlation. (F4D Two-seater,
                                        one captured, one found dead.)
Luna, Crater P.                 USAF    -Laos, voice contact on the
                                        ground.(JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -listed as POW by DIA, 1973
                                        -likelihood he was captured (DIA
                                        1992 analytical comment)
Lundy, ALbro L.                 USAF    -Laos, our of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -alleged post-capture photo
                                        positively identified by family.
Martin, Russell D.              USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
Matejov, Joseph A.              USAF    Laos, EC47Q, Baron 52, believed
                                        to have been captured according
                                        to analysts in 1973 based on NSA
                                        intelligence reports.
Mauterer, Oscar                 USAF    -Laos, ejected and possibly
                                        captured. DIA analytical
                                        comments, 1979 rpt.)
                                        -out of aircraft before crash.
                                        (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive. (DoD April 1991 list)
McIntire, Scott W.              USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -possible POW according to NSA
                                        correlation. Possible
                                        conflicting SAR information.
Melton, Todd M.                 USAF    Laos, EC47Q, Baron 52, believed
                                        to have been captured according
                                        to analysts in 1973 based on NSA
                                        intelligence reports.
Milius, Paul L.                 USN     -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 2)
Morrisey, Robert D.             USAF    Laos/NVN, Captured alive
                                        according to same day
                                        intelligence report indicating
                                        capture of pilots (s) of a low
                                        flying aircraft in same location
                                        and giving orders to "conceal
                                        the accomplishment." (No other
                                        shootdowns correlate to this
                                        report.) Intelligence report one
                                        week later requested special
                                        Vietnamese team to transport the
                                        hulf od an F-111. NSA analyst
                                        recalls Brown on list of POWs
                                        moved to Sam Neua for movement
                                        to USSR. NVN defector states
                                        intact portion (possibly the
                                        ejection capsule) of F-111 sent
                                        to China same month as
                                        Morrisey/Brown shootdown, NVN
                                        photographers not allowed to
                                        keep photos of the F-111.
Mullen, William F.              USMC    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Mullins, Harold E.              USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
Mundt, Henry G.                 USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive. (DoD April 1991 list)
Pike, Dennis S.                 USN     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 2)
Pittman, Allan D.                       Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Preston, James A.               USAF    Laos, name heard by several
                                        returned POWs over Voice of
                                        Vietnam or Camp Radio. (Hyatt,
                                        Risner, Rivers, Rutledge,
Pugh, Dennis G.                 USAF    -Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
                                        -known captured according to NSA
                                        intercept correlation.
Reed, James W.                  USAF    Laos, known to have parachuted
                                        from aircraft, orders given by
                                        enemy to capture the individual
                                        according to NSA intercept
Rose, Luther L.                 USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
Rowley, Charles S.              USA     -Laos, positively identified as
                                        a POW by returnee Larry Stark
                                        from "either propaganda picture
                                        of group of Laos POWs viewing
                                        film shown at hanoi Hilton with
                                        Stark in February, 1973. (Stark
                                        -Additional information obtained
                                        from Select Committee deposition
                                        of US Embassy official from Laos
                                        during the war.
Shelton, Charles                USAF    captured by P.L. forces, voice
Sigafoos, Walter H.             USAF    Laos, possibly captured
                                        according to NSA intercept
                                        correlation. (F4D two-seater,
                                        one captured, one found dead).
Singleton, Daniel L.            USAF    -Laos, possibly captured
                                        according to NSA intercept
                                        correlation. (F4E two-seater,
                                        one captured).
                                        -POW early returnee (1969)
                                        Wesley Rumble listed a "Larry
                                        Singleton" on a list of hearsay
                                        names that he was given to
                                        memorize. Daniel L. Singleton
                                        was shot down in January, 1969.
Skinner, Owen G.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Smith, Harding E.               USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
Smith, Warren P.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Sparks, Jon M.                  USA     Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Stevens, Larry J .              USN     Laos, alleged post-capture
                                        photograph positively identified
                                        by family members.
Stewart, Virgil G.              USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)
Utley, Russell K.               USAF    Laos, possibly captured
                                        alive according to NSA intercept
                                        correlation (F4E two seater -one
Walker, Lloyd F.                USAF    Laos, survival possible but no
                                        sign. (DIA analytical comments)
Walker, Samuel F.               USAF    Laos, one parachute observed,
                                        mid-air collision. (DIA
                                        analytical comment 1979)
Warren, Ervin                   USAF    Laos, no trace of crew, wreckage
                                        found (DIA analytical comment,
Warren, Gray D.                 USAF    Laos, one pilot parachuted and
                                        probably captured according to
                                        NSA intercept correlation.
                                        (F4D-Two seater)
Wilkins, George H.              USN     identified alive by Thai
Williamson, James D.            USA     -Laos, POW according to hearsay
                                        information, JSSA. no sign of
                                        crew, DIA.
                                        -believed by POW returnees
                                        Friese and Uyeyama to have
                                        signed propaganda statement.
Wood, Don C.                    USAF    -Laos, identified in Pathet Lao
                                        film, possibly captured. (DIA,
                                        -believed to have successfully
                                        got out of his aircraft and was
                                        alive on the ground. Last known
                                        alive (DoD April 1991 list)
Wood, William C.                USAF    Laos, out of aircraft before
                                        crash. (JTF-FA Survive Code 1)


POW and MIA Issues - 1997

(A compilation of Committee hearings and the 1205 and 735 documents on POWs Left Behind)


A Deaf Ear and a Blind Eye – Tradecraft Rules - Where Was our Intelligence Community?

There is an excellent example of this from 1997. Senator Trent Lott asked Senator Richard Shelby, head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, for the “intelligence basis” for the President’s certification for expansion of relations with Vietnam. Specifically, Lott wanted to know in light of the pending nomination of former POW and Congressman Pete Peterson to be Ambassador to Vietnam, the impact of the 1205 General Quang document (Appendix “C”) and the 735 (U.S. Estimates) document. These documents, of course, outlined that several hundred American POWs had been left behind, abandoned, in Vietnam and Laos. The President, knowledgeable about these documents, nevertheless, certified that progress on the POW/MIA field was sufficient to proceed with expanded diplomatic initiatives with Vietnam.

The answer from Shelby's Committee staff was shocking! Shocking that the process continued. Shocking that Congressional oversight allowed it to continue. The Committee staff found that “the Intelligence Community appears to have played no formal role in the determinations...” The documents in question “have not been the subject of a coordinated community-wide analysis... (they) could not dismiss them as fabrications... (and) attempts by the Intelligence Community to gain additional information on the documents appear to have been limited...” Cut to the quick, we don’t know their authenticity; they aren’t fabricated; we don’t know what they mean; and we don’t care!

So, where does that violate “tradecraft standards?” First, the Senate Staff wrote, “A primary role of U.S. intelligence is to help American foreign policy makers make informed decisions. In general, U.S. Government’s certification on foreign affairs matters is assumed to be based on a number of factors including input from the Intelligence Community. The process of collecting and analyzing sensitive and open-source information is complicated and subjective, but is the essence of the work done by the Intelligence Community. In most instances, the quality and source of information is such that it may be interpreted in more than one way and isolated reports of information may easily be misinterpreted. It is critical to take all information -- including information derived from sensitive intelligence sources and methods, and information related to policy implementation -- into account when judging the validity of information on which to base a certification or determination.”

The CIA determined that it had no role in the “input” into this determination because “the Defense Department’s Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) is responsible for intelligence bearing on the POW/MIA issue, other elements of the Community were not formally involved in the certification process.” The National Security Council did not request an Intelligence Community assessment on whether the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was cooperating in full faith on POW/MIA issues as mandated by Congress because President Clinton felt they were unconstitutional inhibitions on his ability to conduct foreign policy.

The Committee Staff found that “The U.S. Intelligence Community did not on its own provide an assessment on whether Vietnam was cooperating in full faith on the key POW/MIA issues." What the White House did was to task the DPMO and the State Department East Asian and Pacific Affairs Office, both policy directorates, and as the Senate Staff noted, “outside the oversight of the Intelligence Community,” to provide input for a Presidential “Memorandum of Justification for Determination.” In arriving at this “justification,” both policy directorates did not include any Intelligence Community input. Instead, they relied upon “in-country reporting from the State Department Embassy officers and the DoD personnel with the Joint Task Force - Full Accounting.” Therefore, there was no identifiable intelligence input into the decision.

That should be shocking! However, it was inevitable because “collection requirements pertaining to the POW/MIA issue” which were in place during the Reagan, Bush, and early Clinton years, “were removed from the President’s Decision Directive on the Intelligence Community’s priority requirement list on the recommendation of the National Security Council in 1995." No one is tasked to find out anything. Thus, it is not surprising that the Intelligence Community did not “on its own” do anything. There has to be requirements for that community to act. Those are called Special Intelligence Collection Requirements or SICRs. In fact, the Staff reported, “The Intelligence Community’s only POW/MIA analytical element, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Office of POW/MIAs Affairs, was transferred out of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.” This is just like the situation Kirkpatrick referred to, policy makers without eyes, and not wanting any. If you want to accomplish a policy, i.e. recognize Hanoi and put in place full relations with them, you don’t want little things like finding out that American POWs had been left behind to stop the progress that is part of the greater good (according to the policy makers). The result, at some point, will be "surprises" like Speicher, or worse, finding out, hopefully not too late, that POWs have been rotting away for years with no one wanting to bring them home.

Where Are The Violations?

You still haven’t stated the violations. Well, here we go. Remember, the Staff stated, “It is critical to take all information -- including information derived from sensitive intelligence sources and methods and information related to policy implementation -- into account when judging the validity of information on which to base a certification or determination. “ You’ve just seen that this did not happen. I don’t want to let the CIA off the hook on this point. They tried to slough off onto DoD the responsibility for intelligence matters, i.e. DPMO, as being “responsible for intelligence bearing on the POW/MIA issue...” Yet, as the Staff pointed out, DPMO was “transferred out of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.” Thus, “The Intelligence Community’s only POW/MIA analytical element” no longer existed as part of the National Foreign Intelligence Program. That left CIA as being charged with intelligence matters, no matter who else had prior responsibility. Their charter is to provide intelligence on all matters.

In their own words, CIA states that the “DI professional ethic requires that analysts provide direct support to policymakers’ efforts to define and defend US national security interests...” (From the CIA tradecraft training manual) The CIA notes that their product requires them to go “beyond general relevance to US interests to customized assistance for identified policy officials who have the ‘action’ on designing, implementing, or monitoring US policy on an individual issue.” Note, despite what CIA said to the Staff, the “action” on implementing or designing US policy belonged to DPMO, the intelligence gathering belonged to CIA, since no one else had any responsibility for gathering it. CIA always has a task or “charter” to gather foreign intelligence, if no one else does.

Ironically, CIA addresses this dilemma by saying, “The challenge to address effectively US interests is greater when the initiative for launching a DI product comes largely from the intelligence side of the relationship. It is here that Agency monitors (such as the staffs of the congressional oversight committees) are most likely to raise questions about the policymaking utility of individual DI products.” However, as the Staff found, “the U.S. Intelligence Community did not on its own provide an assessment on whether Vietnam was cooperating in full faith on the key POW/MIA issues.” The tradecraft rule here is to “Think of the analysts role as that of the objective or tough-minded expert for a policymaking team... What they need most from the intelligence analyst is organized information, including specialized intelligence, that clarifies the goals and motives as well as the strengths and weaknesses of adversaries, allies, and other foreign players... The goal is to convert substantive expertise into action-support analysis before conveying it to consumers...” Unfortunately, CIA politicized it’s own role, i.e. ignored the POW issue, when the President took the issue off the front plate of priorities. I presume that CIA took this to mean they actually followed tradecraft by “Targeting the policymakers’ specific interest in a substantive issue.” If the President wants “Justification” for a policy - expanding the political intercourse with Vietnam, who are they to spoil his policy?

What Is CIA's Duty To Congress?

The Intelligence Services of the United States, unlike that of most countries, makes a large part of its output available to the legislative branch. Such sharing has provided tensions since Congress often uses the intelligence to provide it with ammunition to challenge administration policies. Likewise, the Administration often see intelligence agencies as "allies" in their political struggles with Congress. Here, the POW issue falls. Those who control the intelligence output controls the results of the policy - return or forget POWs. We'll see how tradecraft rules were violated with Congress also.

One of the first rules of intelligence is to be precise about what is known. In the case of the 1205 and 735 documents, plus a whole host of other items, that has not been done. What has been done, as we have seen, is that a statement is made like, we “could not dismiss them as fabrications.” Then, there is no attempt to say what that means. Instead, the statement is overlooked as if it did not exist. The CIA tradecraft says, “With US interests, and at times lives, on the line, policymakers... need to be informed precisely what the all-source analysts know and how they know it. In making decisions, ... it is important for them to know if the information is direct (be considered factual because of the source) or indirect (doubt because of the source’s reliability), and if and why the analysts have concluded it is factual. Direct information can be considered to be factual because of “the concrete and readily verifiable character of the contents.” One thing accomplished was the determination that the information was not a “deception” by a “foreign government” or group “to get US intelligence analysts to reach an erroneous conclusion."

Just as importantly, “the more complicated an issue... the greater the informational demands to establish... (what) is factual. The burden of proof for determining what foreign leaders... intend to do... is much greater than that required for what they have done or said... the burden of proof is high on matters that are controversial among policymakers or politically sensitive between the Administration and Congress...” Analysts should err on the side of providing more, rather than less, information. Thus, when CIA had no one in the intelligence field involved, and only policy makers were “justifying” a previously determined goal, tradecraft was compromised, The result was flawed.

What has happened is that when all-source information has been applied to the issue, the results have been highly reliable indicators that Americans are being held prisoner. Taking the 1981 Laotian (Nhom Marrot) incident, here is what has been known:

·         COL Nick Rowe stated we knew the camp commander’s name (To Monika Jensen Stevenson in Kiss The Boys Goodbye)

·         HUMINT sources saw and reported American POWs in the area consistently from at least 1972

·         Confirming evidence came from trusted American, allied, and special “sensitive” sources with direct access to the target area

·         HUMINT sources were polygraphed with positive results

·         Technical intelligence, including photography from satellites, drones and SR-71s confirm what the HUMINT sources revealed. Radio intercepts confirm other HUMINT evidence.

·         A name of an MIA matches the data base and man-made symbols hidden from the “captors” further the evidence of American POWs being held

·         Going to 1992, the following is found:

o        The Staff used “a long -standing and proven method of analysis used by the U.S. Intelligence Community... the same method ... used ... to track SCUD Missile firings by Iraq during the Gulf War ... a similar process also is used in tracking SS-25 mobile missile units in the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia)...” and the same system used in Vietnam to trace VC local force units; VC Main Force units; and VCI.

o        The staff developed a “measles map” or cluster analysis of radio intercepts; distress symbols; and HUMINT sighting reports. They weeded out: “clearly outrageous, inflated, exaggerated, or impossible reports;” “several hundred reports equating to Robert Garwood” (or other returnees); reports that could plausibly equate to foreign nationals; reports of people not living in confinement; reports of yachtsmen, adventurers, or smugglers; and sightings equating to Americans detained in Saigon and later returned.

o        What was found? The existence of logistical and administrative relationships among camps in Northeastern Laos and in Northwestern Vietnam not reflected in DIA documents; Evidence of a second set of camps in Vietnam from which no prisoners returned; Differences in the policies, patterns, and characteristics of POW incarceration in Vietnam and Laos; a context for interpreting and understanding the limited amounts of signal intelligence of POW movements in Laos and Vietnam along with the photography of alleged distress signals.

In every instance, the signal intercepts and the alleged distress signals coincided with a cluster of live sightings posted to the map. (This is exactly what happened also in the 1981 example)

o        The staff estimated, based on the evidence before them, that between 100 to 850 POWs were being held through 1989 (and most likely 1992)

The contrary opinion was expressed by COL Joe Schlatter, a DIA spokesman and self professed internet “myth buster.” He testified in July 1989 that “If we look at everything we collected during the war and ... since the war, we don’t find any evidence that Americans are captive.” The Senate Minority Interim Staff Report directly contradicted him with this statement: “... classified and unclassified information all confirm one startling fact: that DOD in 1974, concluded ... several hundred living American prisoners remained... in Southeast Asia. This was a full year after DOD spokesmen were saying publicly that no prisoners remained alive...”

Busting the Myth Busters and Debunkers

So what happened? How did the evidence, gathered in full accord with intelligence standards, become what is commonly reported today? The Senate POW Counsel told the staff, “Unless and until the Senators understand and agree with your findings, there are no findings or conclusions.” The staff found that “In every instance that DIA found the source of a live sighting to be credible... analysts left the resolution of the sighting ‘open - ended’ or ... the source ... mistaken... In the former case, no additional analysis was evident. In the latter, none was needed. The minority assessed that credible sources produced believable reports and credible information. Additional analysis could lead to additional results.” Instead of doing this, we have the full violation of tradecraft rules. No follow-up. No additional analysis. All this was said before the 1205 document was found.

With the 1205 document we find: Corroborated was the previous 735 document, the findings from the 1981 all source analysis; the findings of the 1992 all source analysis; the reporting of Dr. Dang Tan (an important defector from the war); the findings of the Senate Foreign Relations Minority Staff; and the findings of war-time analyst LTG Eugene Tighe (from 1972) that American POWs had been left behind in great numbers.

The finding of the 1205 document should have been the signal to begin serious negotiations to bring men home. Instead, as we saw, nothing was done. Intelligence tradecraft rules were thrown out. Policy makers, including those in DoD, sacrificed men held prisoner, and to date, nothing has been done of an all-source nature, outside of those shown above. It is small wonder that LTG Tighe testified he was ashamed of the analysis done and he detected a mindset to debunk.

More seriously is the probability that the head policy setter, President Clinton, wanted the “justification” to pay back financial contributors, like the Riady clan and the Chinese backers (read intelligence operatives) of other contributors, and ignore all this stuff so that millions could be made in China, Vietnam, and elsewhere. That is why, contrary to law (he called unconstitutional), he swept aside “silly rules” like tradecraft and came to conclusions not backed by solid facts. That is “mind-set to debunk” in full action.

More importantly for intelligence professionals, full politicization of intelligence output has likely resulted, permanently and perhaps fatally tainting further results without a full housecleaning effort. Serious breaches of professional conduct have resulted in the POW issue, not to mention others. An Executive, the President, wantonly violated regulations he did not understand on intelligence use. Another Executive, the DCI, allowed the process to be abused. This is not the first time for CIA to have done this in SEA policy. Men in uniform, relying upon professionals in intelligence to find them, were likewise abused. From this monograph, you can easily see, and I hope, likewise come to this same conclusion. While the focus was immediately on the expansion of relations, without a proper "all source" analysis of revelations going contrary to established policy, informed diplomatic initiatives cannot be undertaken. That is why DIA said in 1994 the documents were:

·         "Too fragmentary to permit detailed analysis... the numbers cited are inconsistent with our own accounting"

·         "... we need more information to understand its origin and meaning..."

·         The number cited "was so much higher than the United States Government believed had been captured..."

These statements, taken in conformity with tradecraft rules, and in conjunction with the POW issue being the highest priority of the US government, show the breaking of the rules and establishing "conclusively" the mindset to debunk LTG Tighe so decisively testified about.


Top Secret Report Released in 1995

(Document Confirms that NOT all the POWs were released)

15 SEPTEMBER 1972 (Russian translation)

Here is some excerpts from what is called the 1205 document on the 1205 POWs the NVA says they were holding in 1972 –‘73.  The number of POWs presented at Paris for release was 368.  In this document Gen. Quang presents details on numbers of POWs and shows that they were holding more than those released:

We have captured 624 American aviators in North Vietnam, to include 7 colonels, 85 lieutenant colonels, 183 majors, ie the total number of senior US Air Force and Navy officers comprises 275 people. The 624 American aviators include 3 astronauts, i.e. three people who have completed the necessary training for space flight, for instance, Jim Katlo, who was captured in the vicinity of Hanoi. This figure also includes 15 US Air Force aces having more than 4000 flight hours each: Norman Klarvisto, Karmet, Jim Intist Shasht and others. This is the specific data on American aviators captured in North Vietnam.

Among the other 47 prisoners captured in North Vietnam, there are 36 advisors of diversionary detachments who were inserted in the border region between the DRV and Laos; lone diversionists who were conducting reconnaissance ships; and several seamen who abandoned their ships that were damaged and whom we picked up. Therefore the figures 624 and 47 add up to 671.

In South Vietnam we have captured 143 US aircrew members, mainly helicopter aviators and some jet aviators.

Among the 391 American POWs captured in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, we have 9 colonels, 19 lieutenant colonels and 52 majors. The remaining officers are captain and below, as well as American enlisted soldiers.

Thus in summary, I want to remind you again that the 1205 American POWs presently in prisons of North Vietnam include:

-624 aviators captured in North Vietnam

-143 aviators captured in South Vietnam

-47 diversionarists and other American servicemen captured in North Vietnam;

-391 American servicemen of other categories, which includes 283 captured in South Vietnam, 65 in Cambodia, and 43 in Laos.

All of them are presently in prisons in North Vietnam. Currently we have 11 prisons where American POWs are held. We used to have 4 large prisons, however after the American attempt to free their POWs from Kha-Tej (Son Tay) we expanded this number to 11. Each prison holds approximately 100 POWs.

Seven Air Force colonels captured in North Vietnam and nine colonels of various branches of service captured in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (16 officers in all) are being held together; through them, we are attempting to gain an understanding of the current situation which has developed in the American Army, extract the material and information we need, and determine our position toward them.

We are also holding 104 American lieutenant colonels in one location and are attempting to extract information - secret information about troop dispositions and information concerning the US Defense Department from them.

We have 235 majors concentrated in two locations.

Thus we have dedicated special prisons for senior officers af the American Army: one for colonels, one for lieutenant colonels and two for majors. The rest of the POWs, captains and below, were placed in other prisons.

A few words about the political views and attitudes of American POWs:

There are 368 POWs who have progressive attitudes.

They understand very well that this war is unjust and unpopular on their part. They condemn the American administration and express a strong protest against this war. We will be able to release these 368 POWs first, if as a result of the struggle of the progressive peoples of the world, including the American people, a favorable international environment will develop, forcing Nixon to move toward a resolution of the political issue. We are carrying out work with this category of POWs to explain to them the aggressive nature of the war being conducted by the regime, and also to make them understand the unjust character of this war which is inflicting great damage on the American people. One can assert that this group of POWs is progressive in their political views.

There are 372 of the POWs who hold neutral views, i.e. their political outlook is not fully progressive, yet not too reactionary. We plainly see that they still do not clearly understand the role of the American administration in unleashing the aggressive war in Indochina.

The remainder of the POWs hold reactionary views. In spite of the work carried on to explain to them the real state of things, they have not changed their reactionary views.

The following is a summation:

- - 368 POWs holding progressive views can be released first;

- - 372 POWs hold neutral positions;

- - 465 POWs hold reactionary views.

All the POWs among the senior officers hold reactionary views, i.e. they do not condemn Nixon, they do not protest his policies, and they distort our course of action. We understand that these officers come from rich families. Their reactionary views are precisely a result of this.

We well understand that the American POW issue has great significance for the resolution of the South Vietnamese problem. We must continue propagandistic and educational work with the American POWs, leading to their understanding of the nature of the aggressive war which the US is carrying out in Vietnam, as well as the senseless obstinateness of Nixon, which only delays the release of POWs and their return to their homeland. Soon we will free several POWs in order to put pressure on the Nixon administration, observe this reaction and the reaction of the American public, as well as to demonstrate our good intentions in this matter.

Thus, the 1205 American POWs captured on the fronts of Indochina (in North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), presently kept in prisons in North Vietnam represent a significant force in the American army, a basic part of which is made up of American aviators.

The large number of American aviators imprisoned during the time of Johnson and Nixon inflicted huge damage on the US Air Force. This should cause the US government and Nixon himself to reflect. We intend to resolve the American POW issue in the following manner:

1. The US government must demonstrate compliance, i.e. a cease fire and the removal of Nguyen Van Thieu, and then both sides can begin discussing the matter of returning POWs to the Nixon government.

2. While the American side is resolving the above-mentioned problems, we can free several more aviators from the number who are progressively inclined. Nixon should not hinder the return of these aviators to their homeland and not undertake any disciplinary measures toward them.

3. Nixon must compensate North Vietnam for the great damage inflicted on it by this destructive war.

Here then are the principles on the bases of which we may resolve the American POW issue. However, Nixon continues to resist resolving the Vietnamese question, thereby delaying the resolution of the American POW issue.

I have reported these specific figures and fundamental aspects of the American POW issue to the Politburo. But we also have these comrades who do not understand this problem correctly. It is necessary to resolve this issue taking into account settling the military and the political aspects of the Vietnamese problem. If we take a path of concession toward Americans and release POWs, then we would lose much. That is why our point of view on this issue remains the same: this issue must be resolved on the basis of military and political aspects of settlement.

Holding 1205 POWs creates certain difficulties for us, but more importantly, the loss of 1205 POWs, particularly aviators, is a great detriment to the American Army, particularly the US Air Force. At the same time, we were able to collect data about American weaponry, tactical/technical characteristics of aircraft, Air Force directives, as well as materials about to uncover US intentions in the international arena and on a number of other issues which are related to war in Indochina.

That is why we are convinced that our position concerning POWs has and continues to be correct. If we could successfully resolve the POW issue, then the other issues would not exert any concentrating on the successful resolution of this problem on the aviators who were shot down over North Vietnam and American specialist, as well as scientists in other technical areas. Their loss is a major liability for the American Army, because in no other war have there been so many captured Americans as there are in this war of aggression.

The 1205 American POWs kept in the prisons of North Vietnam present a large number. For now, we have officially published a list of only 368 POWs. The rest are not acknowledged. The US government is aware of this, but they do not know the exact number of POWs, or they perhaps only assume an approximate number based on their losses. Therefore in accordance with the instructions from the Politburo, we are keeping the number of POWs secret.

The Smoking Gun…..

You can draw your conclusions.  Mine are - POWs were left behind and have been abandoned until policies are changed.