Report of the
Senate Select Committee
Testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Corso, USA, Ret.
On November 10, 1992, the Committee heard the testimony of Lt. Col.
Phillip Corso, USA, Ret., a member of the National Security Council
staff during the Eisenhower Administration. Lt. Col. Corso was head
of the special projects division of the Far East Command during the
Korean War, in the G-2 section, with responsibility for keeping
track of North Korean POW camps. During the closing days of the
war, Lt. Col. Corso participated in discussions on the exchange of
sick and wounded prisoners of war (the "Little Switch" operation),
and the full exchange of prisoners ("Big Switch").
Lt. Col. Corso testified that at the end of the exchange of sick
and wounded in the Little Switch Operation, he prepared a document
showing that all U.S. sick and wounded were not returned, and that
about 500 prisoners who were not returned would be in danger of
dying if they did not receive treatment. Lt. Col. Corso testified
that U.S. officials brought this to the attention of the presiding
Chinese general who responded simply by snapping a pencil in two
and doing nothing. According to Lt. Col. Corso, the U.S. concluded
that approximately 8,000 prisoners who should have come home during
Operation Big Switch did not. Lt. Col. Corso drafted statements to
be given to the United Nations by Dr. Charles Mayo and Henry Cabot
Lodge. As Col. Corso testified:
Dr. Charles Mayo gave the statement on bacteriological
warfare, and Ambassador Lodge on the United Nations
prisoners of war. And we found out that at the time the
Chinese, under Russian tutelage, had a detailed,
scientific process of Pavlovian type experiments which
they were conducting on our prisoners.
We knew about this information, but we were hindered from
sending agents to the North to find out more about this
because this was handled mostly by OPC, which was a unit
of the CIA.
Now, during my tour in Korea, I compiled the evidence, I
was receiving this daily, that prisoners had not been
returned from North Korea and had been sent, in fact, to
the Soviet Union. The war was still going on at the time.
The information that I had was compiled, and I was amazed
to hear that there was no evidence in the archives on
this. There were actually hundreds of reports. The
reports came from prisoner of war interrogation reports
of North Koreans, prisoners of war, Chinese prisoners of
war, and defectors, and some photographs that we took,
our reconnaissance planes took.
These reports were compiled and kept in files, and I'd
say offhand there must have been 300 or 400 of these
reports easily in my file of knowledge from prisoners of
war and so forth that our prisoners had been sent up
through Manchuria to Man-chou-li (by train). There they
were transported or changed. There they were changed
because of the gauge and sent to the Soviet Union. I had
very definite information on two train loads. . . from
Chinese prisoners of war, North Korean prisoners of war,
civilian defectors, and photographs. We had some
photographs of the camps.
Lt. Col. Corso estimated that each of the two train loads of U.S.
POWs contained about 450 prisoners, for a total of 900 POWs
transported to the Soviet Union. He stated that he had some
inconclusive information as to the possibility of a third, similar
trainload. In all, Lt. Col. Corso said he had 200 to 300 reports
about these 900 POWs or related information. Eventually, he was
asked to brief President Eisenhower personally on the situation, in
a five-minute meeting which took place in mid-1953, or possibly as
late as 1954. This meeting took place while Lt. Col. Corso was
serving on the staff of the National Security Council. As Lt. Col.
I had a call from my principal, C. D. Jackson, one day,
who was special assistant to the President. He said, get
over, we have to go see the President. Bring your
prisoner of war report. My prisoner of war report that I
handed him was one page. I walked in the office. The
President was in the Oval Office, the three of us, and I
saw him, and he said, I understand you have a report on
prisoners of war going to the Soviet Union? I told him,
yes, that's what I'm here for.
I compiled this report not only here but from information
in Korea, which I said before, that up to 1,200 we
suspect, but about 900 certainly did go there. Our
information is solid, as solid as intelligence
information can be, because that's the nature of
I handed [President Eisenhower] the report, and he read
it. And he had a very serious look on his face. . . This
was not a pleasant meeting. It did not last long. . . He
said, Colonel, he said, do you have any recommendations,
because in the military, generally the writer of the
report has to make a recommendation to his superior who
then decides on what to do with it.
I said, yes. The nature of this report-- these men will
never come back alive because they will get in the hands
of the KGB who will use them for their purposes.
Espionage, play-backs, or whatever. This is not uncommon
in the intelligence business. Once they fall in their
hands, there's little hope of them coming back.
And I told him, Mr. President, you are aware of the
system of the KGB, how they use prisoners of war and
defectors? And he said, yes, I am. He said, is your
recommendation not to make it public? I said, my
recommendation is not to make public the part--the KGB
operation. It's difficult to understand at its best. It
hasn't been revealed. The part on prisoners, that I don't
So, the President said, well, I accept your
recommendation. . . he said, well, I agree, we cannot
give it to the families. Then I said, Mr. President,
though, may I send a copy of this report to the
Department of Defense? He said, yes.
According to Lt. Col. Corso, the effort to locate and retrieve U.S.
POWs held by the Communists during the Korean War were impeded by
the U.S. policy of not making strident and confrontational
statements directed at the Soviet Union, North Korea and China. Lt.
Col. Corso testified that "The big policy was the policy of fear.
Fear of general war. That was the policy that was stopping us." Lt.
Col. Corso added that the families were not told because:
[Y]ou'd have to tell the families that these boys were
going to be tried, used, exploited for NKVD operations
which were espionage, sabotage, and take their
identities. And that we felt would have been damaging to
the families, but it's hard to explain, sir. . . They
were going to be exploited in a very sinister way. As far
as telling them they were alive, sir, I put in a speech
at the United Nations that 1,800 prisoners of war had
gone to the Soviet Union, had been transferred to the
Soviet Union. Now, there was no mention that they were
dead or not dead, but that was put in the statement and
released, and he gave me permission to put that in.
According to Lt. Col. Corso, he is the only person alive who
participated in the decision not to tell the families the
information concerning U.S. POWs in the Soviet Union. The Committee
has not been able to find any documentary corroboration of his
Testimony of Colonel Delk Simpson
The testimony of Col. Delk Simpson (USAF-Ret.), a former U.S.
military attache in Hong Kong, also supported the possibility that
large numbers of U.S. prisoners were transferred to Soviet
territory during the Korean war period. Col. Simpson testified that
he had received and passed on to U.S. Air Force Intelligence
headquarters in 1954 an eyewitness account concerning the
transportation of approximately 700 American prisoners from Man-
chou-li, China into Siberia. According to Col. Simpson's source, a
number of the prisoners were black soldiers.
Col. Simpson testified that he has worked since his retirement in
1961 to bring this issue to the attention of the government,
including visits to offices in both the executive and legislative
branch. Col. Simpson said that he had learned that DIA considered
him to be "senile" and that the prisoners he had reported were
French from the French-Indochinese War, being taken to Siberia for
return to France.
As Col. Simpson testified:
It was not until six months ago that I came to understand
the possibility of why I received such official inaction.
At that time, I met Colonel Corso, and Colonel Corso told
me that in 1953, he was the author of a policy while on
the White House staff to abandon all prisoners being held
by the Russians. He said the policy was approved by
President Eisenhower. Senator, it is incomprehensible to
me that anybody would make such a decision to send our
boys to a sure death.
Col. Simpson testified that his original source was a Polish man
trying to get to Australia, who was afraid the U.S. was going to
try to stop him. Col. Simpson promised to keep his name and
destination secret. He sent the information as a classified report
to the Pentagon, and never received a response.
Testimony of Sgt. Steve E. Kiba
The case of Sgt. Steve E. Kiba demonstrates conclusively that,
whether or not prisoners were transferred from North Korea to the
former Soviet Union, at least some were transferred to the People's
Republic of China (PRC). Sgt. Kiba was interned in China for 32
months as a POW during the Korean War. An Air Force pilot, Sgt.
Kiba was transported to Red China about three days after his
capture on January 12, 1953, and remained there until his release
on August 4, 1955. Throughout his time as a POW in China, he
experienced degrading and harsh conditions. As Sgt. Kiba testified:
They were sadistic and barbaric. . . threatened me with
all kind of horrendous tortures, and they even did some
of them. . . They told me I would never go home unless I
cooperated. And they threatened to keep me for life. And
they kept some of my friends for life. They're still
Sgt. Kiba testified that American POWs were abandoned after the
1953 cease-fire, and that he was one of them, but that others,
unlike him, never returned. He stated that either he or others in
his crew saw ten to fifteen caucasians whose fates remain
undetermined. As he testified:
It is a known fact that we abandoned American servicemen
after [World War II, Korea, and Vietnam] and let their
families down. I know we abandoned some because I saw
some of them.
President Harry Truman was the first President to leave
Americans behind. Then President Eisenhower abandoned
American POWs after the Korean War in North Korea, Red
China and the Soviet Union. In a press conference on
April 29, 1959, President Eisenhower acknowledged that
not all American POW's were repatriated after the Korean
According to Sgt. Kiba, the Communists he met while he was in
captivity demonstrated to him that they were sadistic and needed no
reason to keep Americans, because "a Communist is different." As he
testified, "for almost 40 years, I've been trying to inform the
American people and the news media of the heinous crime of
enslaving the bodies and minds of our courageous fighting men by
the godless communists." Mr. Kiba said that in the final analysis,
he could understand why he was so badly treated by the Communists,
but he could not understand why his own government had asked him to
remain silent after his return about the others he had seen in
China while he was a POW.
State Department Testimony on North Korea
Until recently, the Government of North Korea has provided little
cooperation to the United States in accounting for missing U.S.
servicemen despite its obligation to do so under the armistice
agreement that ended the Korean War. As a result, no archival
research in North Korea has been possible. A series of diplomatic
initiatives over the past five years, however, give grounds for
hope that progress may be possible in the future. As Charles
Kartman, director of the Office of Korean Affairs, U.S. Department
of State, told the Committee:
In 1988. . . we announced a modest policy initiative
aimed at enhancing the prospects for resolving the
problems of the Korean War, by drawing North Korea out of
its isolation. As part of that process, we opened a
diplomatic channel with the North Koreans throughout
respective embassy political counsellors in Beijing. At
our first meeting in 1988, and subsequently on many
occasions in that channel, we told the North Koreans that
in order to improve relations with us they should take
steps in several areas, including Korean War POW/MIAs.
In 1990, on Memorial Day. . . North Korea returned five
sets of remains to a Congressional delegation headed by
Representative Sonny Montgomery. In June 1991, they
handed over 11 more sets to Senator Smith, who had
participated in arrangements for this action. Senator
Smith used this occasion to reinforce our position on the
importance of regularizing the process.
On both occasions, the North Koreans made it plain that
they hoped to derive some political benefit from their
actions. . .
In January of this year, Undersecretary of State Kanton
discussed with a high-level North Korean delegation in
New York the full range of issues, focused of course on
our concerns regarding the North Korean nuclear program,
but including the MIA issue. Then in April , North
Korean President Kim Il Sung, in an interview with the
Washington Times, said that North Korea was prepared to
resolve the MIA issue in a humanitarian manner.
In May , the North Koreans returned 30 sets of
remains in Panmunjon directly to the United Nations
Command. The North Koreans said explicitly at the time
that they were willing to discuss formal arrangements to
return further remains to the United Nations command. .
We have asked the DPRK to give us any available
information on POW's and MIA's. In reply, we have only
been told that there is not a single POW in the DPRK. We
have raised this issue with both Russia and China
repeatedly this year, and will continue to do so with
them and with North Korea. . . the best answers will come
from a longer-term process, which will bring about not
only the return of remains, but also the resolution by
other means--archival research for example--of questions
surrounding the fate of Korean War MIAs.
Testimony of Mr. Robert Dumas
On November 11, 1992, the Committee received testimony from Mr.
Robert Dumas, whose brother, PFC Roger A. Dumas of Company C, 19th
Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, was captured northeast
of Anju, North Korea on or about November 4, 1950. Mr. Dumas
testified to his belief that a large number of POWs were retained
by the Koreans and are still there, working on collective farms.
Furthermore, Mr. Dumas, who has had personal contact with senior
North Korean officials at the United Nations for several years,
including the Ambassadors, said that only a comprehensive approach,
involving all outstanding issues, could bring results on the POW
issue with the North Koreans.
Mr. Dumas testified that he met with the North Korean Ambassador in
New York in July 1992 and the Ambassador said,
Bob, all you want is your brother home. That's all. And
he said talk to the man in the White House, get somebody
to sit down with us, and let's go over the whole thing,
the whole category. Let's go over everything, the whole
Mr. Dumas then related for the Committee a meeting he attended in
New York on December 9, 1987, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson and
Ambassador Pak Del Yan of the DPRK. He said that Reverend Jackson
opened the discussion with:
Mr. Ambassador, if you have live prisoners in North Korea
right now, I will come to North Korea on Christmas Eve
and bring some home alive. And in the springtime, if you
have any remains, we will go back in the spring and
exhume those with an organization of human rights people
from our side and your side.
Mr. Dumas continued, "And the first thing the Ambassador said,
'yes, Reverend, that would be good for both our countries.'"
Mr. Dumas interpreted this discussion to be an admission by the
North Korean Ambassador that his country continues to hold U.S.
POWs. The Committee staff has requested an opportunity to discuss
this meeting with Rev. Jackson, but such a discussion has not taken
Testimony of Serban Oprica, Former Rumanian Engineer
Mr. Dumas' belief that American POWs are laboring in North Korean
collective farms was consistent with the testimony of Serban
Oprica, a former Rumanian engineer now living in Hartford
Connecticut. Mr. Oprica worked for the Romanian government in North
Korea during 1979 and 1980, assisting in the construction of a
television production factory in Pyongyang. Mr. Oprica testified
that, in late October or early November, 1979, he saw a group of
Caucasians whom he believed to be American POWs. The sighting
occurred during a bus ride in the countryside. Mr. Oprica
We see a land like a camp where vegetables, and my
attention was to--because I saw a person with a European
face, with blue eyes very close the bus. And I was very
shocked. And everybody on the bus was shocked. And I was
looking behind him (and) I saw 7 or 10 peoples with
Caucasian face. And behind them, I saw more people
working the camp. . . They were dressed with North Korean
dress, like Chinese, but they worked in the camp and was
According to Mr. Oprica, the men were not guarded. In his
deposition, he specified that he saw no less than five and as many
as fifteen other Caucasians in the immediate vicinity of the bus
and as many as 50 others in the distance. All wore the same gray
drab clothes and were working in a farm field, without restraints.
Mr. Oprica testified that at another place in North Korea, at a
museum, he and his wife saw parts of American soldiers in alcohol,
which were used as a means of frightening people. These body parts
included limbs, hands, and heads, and were displayed in the
vicinity of American armament items, including uniforms and flags.
Mr. Oprica also remembered witnessing an altercation between a
Rumanian and a North Korean while he was on an outing to the west
coast port city of Nampo. Mr. Oprica remembers hearing the Rumanian
angrily accuse the Koreans of holding American POWs from the Korean
War. Mr. Oprica said that the Rumanians had spent a longer time in
Korea than he had were certain that American POWs were still being
held by the North Koreans.
Mr. Oprica was debriefed by U.S. Army intelligence in 1988 in
behalf of the DIA, and by the FBI, but he believes that little or
nothing was done with the information he provided.
U.S. POWs from World War II
RAND Project / Cole
The RAND research on World War II, conducted by Dr. Paul Cole,
focused on the European theater of operations, looking into the
question of how many Americans, "liberated" from German POW camps
by the Soviets, were not repatriated.
RAND found that 76,854 Americans were estimated to be in German POW
camps as of March 15, 1945, but that the total number of American
POWs recovered from German POW camps was 91,252, nearly 14,000 more
than expected. Moreover, Soviet forces liberated a substantial
number of these POWs -- 28,662 according to U.S. records; but only
22,554 according to Soviet records, a difference which Dr. Cole
attributed to poor Soviet record keeping.
In the years that followed, several dozen, and possibly as many as
several hundred, inquiries were made by the United States
government on behalf of U.S. MIAs, usually based on requests from
family members. The Soviets responded by creating an American
Missing Persons File at its National Archives, which included some
of this correspondence, as well as files derived from Missing Air
Crew reports and Enemy Evasion Aid reports, some of which covered
crewmen who had been repatriated to the United States. As Dr. Cole
There is no question that many bomber crews survived
after parachuting or crash landing on territory
controlled by Soviet forces. Many of these crewmen were
repatriated. U.S. and Soviet records suggest, however,
that an undetermined number were not. The U.S. Embassy at
Moscow's efforts to obtain information about American
citizens held on the territory of the USSR were severely
limited by the Soviet position that some American
citizens were considered by Soviet authorities to be
Rumanians, Hungarians, other eastern Europeans, or even
citizens of the USSR. In these cases, the Soviet
government always refused to give the U.S. Embassy even
the slightest bit of information in response to inquiries
concerning people the Soviet authorities considered to be
Dr. Cole found no evidence to support charges that thousands of
American POWs liberated from Nazi German POW camps were never
repatriated. Moreover, his research raises questions even about the
relatively few individuals identified by the Russians as U.S. POWs
who were never repatriated by the USSR. As Dr. Cole testified:
Some explanations of what happened to unrepatriated
American POWs do not hold up well under scrutiny. In
December 1991, the Senate Select Committee on MIA-POW
Affairs visited Moscow. During this visit, Gen. Dimitri
Volkogonov gave the U.S. delegation a list, containing
the names of fourteen Americans who died [who] were
alleged to have died in Soviet custody during World War
II. There is no information concerning the sources used
to compile this list. The list does not correspond to
unaccounted-for POW records of the Adjutant General.
There is no correlation between this list and the mandate
of the Joint U.S.-Russian Commission on MIA-POWs
Dr. Cole then reviewed the efforts in the late 1940's and early
1950s, which by 1956 had resulted in the release from Soviet block
captivity of nineteen American citizens. There was little
subsequent activity in this area until December 5, 1991, when the
U.S. submitted data to the Russian government "concerning certain
individuals who could have been detained in the Soviet Union in the
1950's." Russian President Yeltsin later advised that "two of the
people the U.S. side inquired about . . . were returned to U.S.
authorities nearly 36 years ago." Another individual about whom
the U.S. requested information had his remains recovered,
identified, and buried at his family's request in the United States
in 1957. There was no record with respect to the other individuals
identified by the U.S.
On July 30, 1992, Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov, chairman of the Russian
Delegation to the U.S.-Russian Commission on MIA-POWs, published an
article in Izvestia listing the names of 39 American citizens who
had been illegally detained by the Soviet government. According to
Dr. Cole, however, none of the 39 was an American POW.
In summary, the initial phase of the Rand review, while incomplete
and inconclusive, tends to discredit the idea that a substantial
number of U.S. POWs were held by the Soviet Union following World
War II and not repatriated.
In this regard, Dr. Cole took issue with the authors of Soldiers of
Misfortune and Moscow Bound concerning the number of POWs the Red
Army "liberated" from German POW camps and failed to repatriate.
The number of American POW's who were not repatriated
from German POW camps in World War II appears to be less
than 200. Assertions that tens of thousands of American
POW's were abandoned are "inconsistent with the
U.S. and Soviet Archives suggest that fewer than 100
American POW's, perhaps 50 or fewer, were held on the
territory of the U.S.S.R. after World War II.
An undetermined number of American air crews--not POWs--
were detained by the U.S.S.R. after making forced
landings on territory it controlled. Most, if not all,
of these crews were repatriated from the U.S.S.R. Some
others may not have been repatriated from Soviet-occupied
territory, but answering this question requires further
The U.S. government located the graves of hundreds of
American servicemen on Soviet-controlled territory. These
were not POWs; most were on the territory of Soviet-
occupied Germany. Records show few of these remains were
recovered from the territory of the U.S.S.R.
Sanders, Sauter, and Brown
John M.G. Brown and James D. Sanders, assisted by Mark A. Sauter,
have conducted years of research in U.S. archives, searching for
information relating to U.S. and allied POWs who fell into the
hands of the Soviet Army as it pursued the rapidly retreating
Wehrmacht across Eastern Europe in 1945. Thousands of soldiers
were moved by rail, truck and foot eastward, not westward, and most
ended their cross-country journey at the port of Odessa, on the
Black sea, there to await transport by sea to their homelands.
This much is not in dispute. What is in question is how many of
these soldiers were not allowed to board ship, but were destined
for the vast Gulag of the Russian-Siberian interior. Mr. Sanders
and Mr. Brown estimate that between 20,000 and 23,500 were POWs of
the Germans and became prisoners of the Soviets.
It is Mr. Brown's theory that Communist mistreatment of POWs--that
is, retaining them as hostages for political purposes--can be
traced to the behavior of the Bolsheviks. According to Mr. Brown,
the Bolsheviks kept at least 60 American soldiers they captured
during the Allied intervention of 1918-1919 at Archangel, and a few
from the Siberian front. In his view, this was a prelude to the
retention by the Soviets of thousands of soldiers taken from the
German POW camps after World War II.
Mr. Sanders furnished the Committee with a critique of Dr. Cole's
research in a letter on November 15. Pertinent excerpts follow:
Let me start by stating that the World War II portion of
Dr. Cole's report is hopelessly incompetent. Any
investigator/analyst/historian researching a possible
Government cover-up of historic proportions, would begin
by testing the official Government history against the
available data. Dr. Cole, however, failed to do this.
Instead, he relied exclusively on the RAMPs Report
(Recovered Allied Military Personnel) to formulate his
working hypothesis. Since the RAMPs report, completed in
1946, is the official Government version of the recovery
of POWs, a competent historian would first demonstrate
that the official history is correct. It is incorrect in
virtually all critical areas.
Cole quotes the RAMPs disinformation line that only
"76,854 were estimated to be in German POW camps." Here
are the correct confirmed American POWs held be the
European Theater 76,474
Mediterranean Theater 20,171
North African Theater 1,667
Mr. Sanders went on to say that his archival research turned up
"Battle Casualties of the Army," which support his figures. He
also asserts that his research shows that the U.S. actually
expected 106-107,000 POWs to be returned, which included between
8,000 and 9,000 men carried as MIA but not definitely known to be
in captivity. On May 19, 1945, a document found by Mr. Sanders--
signed by Gen. Eisenhower--shows that 105,000 returnees were
How many returned? Dr. Cole, using the RAMPs report, says 91,252.
Mr. Sanders says that his research shows that the number did not
Mr. Sanders letter continued with its summary of his findings:
Between February and April 1945, 5,159 Americans should
have been evacuated through Odessa. . . . Only 2,858 were
recovered, however. At least 2,301 Americans
disappeared. A June 1945, State Department study in the
MIS-X files confirms this, stating that 5,200 Americans
should have come out through Odessa.
On May 19,1945, Eisenhower informed General George C.
Marshall, stating that an estimated 25,000 Americans were
still held by the Red Army. It should be noted that this
message was sent during the height of the hostage
negotiations that were in progress in Halle, Germany.
Only 4,165 Americans returned from Soviet control after
that date. . . . We lost 2,500 out of Poland and the
Ukraine between February and March 1945, and 21,000 along
the western front during May 1945, for a total of 23,500.
Cold War Incidents
Joint Staff Report on Cold War POWs
Early in 1992, President Yeltsin said publicly that some American
airmen lost during the Cold War period were captured and held
prisoner in the Soviet Union. In response, the Joint Staff for
POW/MIA matters was tasked to collect all the available information
on Cold War losses. Working with the Office of the Secretary of
Defense, the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, and the State Department, the
Joint Staff reviewed U.S. Government files for communications
between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea
concerning the issue. In addition, the Joint Staff worked with
service casualty officers at the various services to review what
families were told and what information they knew. In all, the
Joint Staff found 133 men who were missing or captured by the
Soviet bloc during the Cold War. As Captain John P. Gay, director
of the Asia/Pacific Division of the J-5, Joint Staff testified:
We defined the parameters of what we wanted to look at,
and we opted for 1946 all the way through 1991. . . We
collected all the data, generating a computer-based data
report. We submitted it to the Secretary of Defense on
the 25th of June. We made one minor update to that report
since that time. To the best of my knowledge, prior to us
collating all this data, there was no Government-wide
effort to include all the Cold War data into a single
report, from 1946 through 1991. I'm convinced that we
made as comprehensive and as complete a look as we
possibly could have. . .
In my examination of all the material associated with
Cold War losses, I see, saw nothing that would support
that any of the 133 missing or captured were held in the
Soviet Union, China, or Korea. However, as many of you
know, because of the circumstances surrounding some of
these incidents, this possibility--and I stress that,
possibility--can certainly not be ruled out, because of
the circumstances surrounding the crashes.
In summary, the Joint Staff found no evidence that any previously
unacknowledged Americans had been captured and imprisoned during
the Cold War period by the Soviet Union, China or Korea, but that
this possibility could not be ruled out because of the nature and
circumstances of some of the incidents involved.
Defense Department View
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Al Ptak testified that U.S.
investigative efforts have focused on 10 incidents between 1950 and
1965 in which shootdowns took place, involving 90 crew members who
remain unaccounted for:
Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, we do not rule
out the possibility that members of these crews may have
survived the loss incident long enough to be rescued by
Soviet units. U.S. debriefs from the 1950's provide
second-hand evidence that individuals matching the
descriptions of members of a few of these crews were
sighted in Soviet prisons; however, we lack conclusive
evidence of such prisoners.
The U.S. has provided the Russians with highly specific data,
including the names of the service members involved, the dates of
their flights, their last known locations, and their aircraft
types, for each of the ten incidents. To date, little information
has been received from the Russians in response, despite continuing
commitments of cooperation. Beginning in September, 1992,
representatives of the Russian Border Guards were included in
discussions with the U.S. members of the Commission, and the
Commission is continuing to seek information from the archives
maintained by them.
Joint Commission Visit to Ukraine
In December, 1992, the Joint Commission visited Kiev, Ukraine.
During a meeting with Ukrainian officials, the U.S. side turned
over lists of all known citizens of the former Soviet Union
captured in Afghanistan and of all known former Soviet citizens who
had been resettled in the United States. Ambassador Toon also held
a press conference asking Ukrainians to come forward with
information concerning U.S. POWs and MIAs. Ukrainian officials
stated their willingness to investigate their records and archives
and to share any information they find with the United States.
During the visit, an official of the DIA pressed the Ukrainians
concerning ten incidents in the Cold War in which Americans were
lost and did not return. One of the incidents occurred in 1965, at
a location that would be within the Ukrainian national territory.
Ukrainian officials uniformly stated that all records had been
taken to Moscow on the orders of Soviet officials of the central
government. Nevertheless, they promised to research whatever files
and archives remained in the Ukraine and to pass on the results.
RAND Project / Cole Testimony
Dr. Cole had this to say about Cold War losses:
During the early period of the Cold War, the U.S.
Government in the 1950's systematically collected live
sighting reports of American citizens, military and
civilian, in Soviet bloc control. This information
provided the basis for dozens of U.S. requests for
information and protests to the Soviet Government.
Between 1945 and 1959, U.S. government protests resulted
in the repatriation of at least nine American citizens
held in the Soviet Union.
Between 1945 and 1969, at least 23 U.S. military aircraft
were shot down by Soviet forces. On at least three
occasions, live crew members were repatriated. During the
1950s, the U.S. government believed that some crew
members were imprisoned by the Soviet Union and made many
protests to the Soviets on their behalf.
Other protests were made on the behalf of American
civilians not permitted to leave the Soviet bloc.
The U.S. also kept detailed records on the whereabouts of
American defectors in the Soviet bloc, the majority of
whom lived in East Germany or Czechoslovakia. Few lived
in the Soviet Union, and some U.S. defectors were
imprisoned by the Soviets as suspected spies.
Family Members and Task Force Russia
TFR and some members of families who have lost servicemen in Cold
War situations take a more positive view on the possibility of
survivors. One of the most intriguing and convincing cases that
can be made showing Soviet duplicity in retaining members of U.S.
air-crews shot down by Soviet fighters during the Cold War involves
the USAF RB-50, tail number 47-145A, which was attacked by two MIG-
15s on July 29,1953, over the Sea of Japan. The sons of one of the
crew, 1st Lt. Warren Sanderson, have made an intensive search for
the truth regarding possible survivors. One of the sons, Bruce W.
Sanderson, of Fargo, North Dakota, testified before the Committee.
Bruce Sanderson has enjoyed the full support of and considerable
assistance from TFR, including personal attention from Gen. Loeffke
and Col. Herrington in his research and visit to Russia, where he
participated in interviews with Russian sources and was given
access to Russian archives. He has been partially successful in
obtaining U.S. Government records involving the case, but the
search for relevant documents is incomplete.
Facts that make this case particularly important are:
. The Soviets admitted that they shot the aircraft down.
. Survivors, beyond the sole individual who was rescued by a USN
ship, were seen in the water by search and rescue aircraft.
. North Korean patrol boats were seen in the area, moving to and
away from the crash-site.
. The co-pilot was rescued 22 hours after the crash, 17 miles
from the coast.
Mr. Bruce Sanderson provided the Committee with a possible insight
into what might have happened to his father and to other American
servicemen who flew missions to collect intelligence along the
Soviet frontiers during the Cold War. He told the Committee that
he located a Russian citizen who was personally involved in the
interrogation of American servicemen in the U.S.S.R. from 1950 to
1954. According to Mr. Sanderson, this is what he was told:
He also reaffirmed the information from the first meeting
that all U.S. personnel under Soviet control were
photographed, finger-printed, and given Russian names,
that these men were then moved frequently from camp to
camp. It was common practice to create a false death
certificate or record when a prisoner was moved. . .
Jane Reynolds Howard presented testimony concerning her search for
the facts concerning her husband's loss over the Baltic Sea.
Robert D. Reynolds (USN Class of '45; graduated in June 1944
because of the war) was in a Navy PB4Y2 "Privateer" shot down by
four Soviet MIGs on April 8, 1950. U.S. searches found no
survivors and all 10 of the crew were presumed dead.
Mrs. Howard testified that she had originally accepted the Navy's
account of her husband's death. But 16 months ago, she finally
learned, through an article in the Los Angeles Times, that her
husband's true mission was not "training," as the Navy had told her
at the time. This led her to consider the possibility that Robert
Reynolds had been captured and to begin a search for answers.
She traveled to Russia where she was assisted by the TFR during a
10-week visit. There, she conducted an intensive search, including
the use of media and photos of her husband as he would appear at
age 70. She does not know if her husband survives, but she is
absolutely convinced that he was captured by the Soviets.
A third family-member, Mr. Gregg Skavinski of Virginia, testified
about the case of his uncle, MSgt William R. Homer, who was aboard
a USAF RB-29 when it disappeared over the Sea of Japan on June 13,
1952. The Air Force recorded the loss as an "accident, a non-
battle casualty." But Mr. Skavinski testified to information that
two radar blips were seen approaching the plane just before it
disappeared; that a Russian radio transmission discussed the rescue
of a member of the crew; that an empty six-man life raft, that
might have been from the RB-29, was sighted; and that Soviets
reportedly interrogated an American aviator in Manchuria about
Major Sam Bush, the commander of the RB-29. What was the Soviet
interest in Major Bush, Mr. Skavinski speculated, if he was at the
bottom of the Sea of Japan?
In summary, the book is not closed on the missing from the Cold
War. There can be little doubt that much more information lies in
the archives and in the recollections of the ex-Soviets who
participated in these events. TFR faces a formidable challenge in
ferreting out the truth.
The Vietnam War
The Committee examined reports and allegations that U.S. prisoners
were interrogated by Soviet military and intelligence officials
during the war in Vietnam and also that some U.S. POWs may have
been transferred to the Soviet Union during that conflict.
Defense Department Testimony
Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Al Ptak testified
concerning efforts by the Commission to determine whether there is
evidence that U.S. prisoners were transferred to the Soviet Union
during the Vietnam war:
Despite having vigorously examined every lead, to date we
have no conclusive evidence supporting claims that U.S.
POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union. It is also
important to note that some of these key individuals,
including the former Soviet Ambassador to Laos, have
refused to be interviewed by the Commission.
To date, the Commission has found no documents indicating that any
U.S. POWs from the Vietnam War were interned in the Soviet Union,
or that Soviet personnel participated in interrogations of U.S.
POWS during the Vietnam War.
Assessment of Committee Investigator
Committee investigator Al Graham testified that:
As with the Korean War, the Russians are very sensitive
to their possible role in the Vietnamese War. Although
they claim that they did not take [part] in any
interrogations in Vietnam and that no U.S. POWs were
transferred from Vietnam to the Soviet Union, there is at
least some circumstantial evidence that such
interrogations did take place and that at least a few
U.S. POWs may have been transferred from Vietnam to the
If so, there is a good chance that some of them could
still be alive. Again, there are possibly several former
U.S. POWs who might have cooperated with the Soviets and
who might not wish to be found. In such cases, it would
probably be worthwhile for representations to be made to
the Russian government at the highest level that such
individuals would not be persecuted by the U.S. and that
on humanitarian grounds, it would be quite useful to be
able to resolve these cases.
Testimony of Bui Tin
During its first set of hearings, in November, 1991, the Committee
received testimony from Bui Tin, former Senior Colonel in the
Vietnamese People's Army. During the latter part of the Vietnam
War, Col. Bui Tin had been the official spokesman for the North
Vietnamese Army. According to the Colonel:
At that time, I had the right to read all the documents
and the secret telegrams from the politburo on this (POW)
issue. In addition, I had special authorization from the
General Vo Nguyen Giap, then defense minister to go to
any camps, to meet with any officers, and to interview
any POWs and read their files.
Col. Bui Tin testified that he believed some U.S. prisoners were
interrogated in Vietnam by Soviet and Cuban military intelligence
officers and that the purpose of this questioning was to obtain
information about their knowledge of advanced aircraft technology.
He said he never heard that any U.S. POWS were transferred to the
A number of those who have written books about POW/MIA-related
issues, including John M.G. Brown, Thomas Ashworth, Mark Sauter,
James Sanders, and Monika Jensen-Stevenson have asserted or
speculated that some Americans captured during the Vietnam War were
transferred to the Soviet Union. For many, the principal source
for this allegation has been Mr. Jerry Mooney, a retired USAF Msgt
who served a long career in communications intelligence.
In addition to the testimony of Mr. Mooney, the Committee received
several reports that Americans were transferred to the Soviet Union
during this period:
. Trung Hieu, a North Vietnamese who has sought political asylum
in the United States, was interviewed by Committee staff in
June 1992. In an interview, Hieu said that the entire crew of
a downed B-52 was turned over to the Soviet Union in 1972; but
he backed away from his assertions during his sworn
deposition. (Mr. Hieu, by virtue of his occupation as a
photographer for the Ministry of Culture, may have had access
to reports of this kind, but it is doubtful that he would have
had personal knowledge.)
. Terrell "Terry" A. Minarcin was also in communications
intelligence in the Air Force. Mr. Minarcin told the
Committee that he tracked "special flights" of Soviet aircraft
in 1977 that carried American POWs to the Soviet Union.
. Jan Senja, a retired Maj. Gen. in the Czechoslovakian
Army, has testified in a deposition and stated in
interviews that American POWs were transported to the
Soviet Union, transiting Prague. He said he had personal
knowledge of the transfer of up to 90 such POWs through
Prague. Gen. Senja defected from a high-level position
in the Ministry of Defense--where he would have had
access to such information--in 1968, and is now an
employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The Committee found no information to corroborate the reports of
Trung Hieu or Mr. Minarcin.
In December, 1992, during a visit by the Joint Commission to
Prague, Ambassador Toon asked Czech officials whether they had
heard of the allegations made by Jan Sejna. None of the officials
denounced or discredited Sejna. All promised to research their
archives, but referred the U.S. delegation to the Ministry of
Interior for answers. The Federal Minister of the Interior, Mr.
Petr Cermak said that the allegations must be taken seriously, that
the communists were capable of anything, and that his Ministry
would turn over to the U.S. Government everything it found
concerning Czechoslovakia's involvement in the Korean and Vietnam
Considering the fact that Jerry Mooney was the principal source
cited by those who assert that American POWs were "Moscow Bound,"
his testimony was remarkably equivocal on the subject. He
testified and presented the Committee with a volume of affidavits
on January 22, 1992. The most definitive part of his testimony, as
it relates specifically to American POWs going to the USSR, was
elicited through questioning by Sen. McCain:
Senator McCain: . . . Mr. Mooney, I believe you said on
a television program that there were several movements of
American POWs to the Soviet Union, is that correct?
Mr. Mooney: I have never said that sir. What I have said is
that there was a tentacle Moscow-bound. The men were
collected. There was a connection by the "friends." We knew
where they were transported within North Vietnam. I have no
knowledge of Laos, and we knew where they went. We knew where
the "friends'" primary prison camp was and we knew how they
were transported from North Vietnam over to Sam Neua, Laos,
which we designated as Tentacle MB. I never saw an American
prisoner being transported out of Southeast Asia and I have
never said that. . .
Senator McCain: My question is, do you have information
or do you believe that American POWs were taken to the
Mr. Mooney: I have no direct information, but
considering the Tentacle Moscow-bound nature of Sam Neua,
I would consider it a probability and, as I have said
many times, they would go only if they were broken.
Senator McCain: So you believe that some Americans were
taken to the Soviet Union?
Mr. Mooney: Under those conditions, sir.
Senator McCain: I am not sure I understand your answer.
Mr. Mooney: Well, sir, let me--
Senator McCain: You either believe that some were taken
to the Soviet Union or you do not believe some were taken
to the Soviet Union, Mr. Mooney. I think it's a pretty
Mr. Mooney then explained why he believed that flights of IL-14s
carried American POWs from a prison camp northwest of Vinh to Sam
Neua. He said the Soviets had no need for POW labor, but "were
after minds." The flights to Sam Neua were unusual in the secrecy
with which they were conducted; there was no air-to-ground
communications. "But," Mr. Mooney said, "we did not know if they
went on beyond Sam Neua. We did not know. I have no knowledge of
Further discussion of Mr. Mooney's testimony and the Committee's
investigation concerning it may be found in the "Intelligence"
chapter of this report.