|General Robert Kingston, US Army.|
|Lieutenant General John ( I forget his last name), US Army, who was the last US Defense Attaché in Saigon.|
|Brigadier General Robbie Risner, USAF, one of the senior US POWs in Hanoi.|
|General John Flynn, USAF, also one of the senior US POWs in Hanoi.|
|And two other senior officers whose names I do not recall.|
This panel was in session for several months -- they came and went, spending a few days at a time in the Pentagon. In the end, they issued a report -- written largely by LTG Tighe -- that is part of the public record. Anyone who wishes can obtain a copy of it through a FOIA request to DPMO.
During the tenure of the "Tighe Commission," I was chief of the analytic branch of the DIA POW-MIA Office. We were directed by LTG Perroots, DIA Director, to provide to LTG Tighe and his panel members any support they requested. Our analysts met frequently, probably one or more times each day, with the Tighe Panel. We as a group, I individually, and our senior analyst individually discussed the panel's work and its final report -- the so-called "Tighe Report" that activists are fond of citing -- subsequently with two other general officers who sat on the panel. I know for a fact that all members of his panel did not concur with LTG Tighe's views. the only one who did concur was a DIA analyst that Gen. Tighe hand-picked as an advisor and who had no experience with the POW/MIA issue. LTG Tighe changed the text of the report's conclusions to reflect his personal views after the other members of the panel had concurred on wording they believed accurately reflected the intelligence information that was available.
The following information is well-known by anyone who served in the DIA POW-MIA Office but is generally unknown outside the office.
In 1976 or 1977, I don't recall the specific date,
LTG Tighe, then DIA Director, instructed the staff of the Defense Intelligence Agency's
(DIA's) Special Office for POW/MIA to find new jobs before the end of that fiscal year.
He explained that he intended to close the Special Office at the end of that fiscal
year. He reasoned that since the United States had not left any POWs behind from the
conflict in Southeast Asia (SEA), there no longer was a need for the DIA to devote
resources to the accounting mission.
At that time, the chief of the office was an Air Force colonel and the deputy was Mr. Charles F. Trowbridge. Mr. Trowbridge was a retired naval aviator who had flown in Vietnam. Trowbridge was assigned to the DIA POW-MIA Office in the early 1970s and was active in debriefing POWs during Operation Homecoming. He retired from the Navy and stayed on as deputy of the POW-MIA Office. Of all the people I ever met during my active duty time, Chuck Trowbridge was one of the finest, most dedicated individuals I ever knew. His ethics and integrity are above reproach. His knowledge of the POW-MIA issue is unquestionably the best and most complete. Chuck did not agree with LTG Tighe's decision to close the POW-MIA Office.
LTG Tighe was prevented from shutting down DIA's accounting mission solely through quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts by Chuck Trowbridge and through public efforts by the leaders of the National League of Families of Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia (the League).
The fact that Chuck Trowbridge saved the DIA POW-MIA Office from being closed has not,
to my knowledge, been discussed publicly anywhere. To the contrary, Mr. Trowbridge
has been a frequent target of the uninformed activist community's vicious and calumnious
At his last appearance as the Director of DIA before the House Subcommittee on
East Asia and the Pacific of the Committee on Foreign Relations, LTG Tighe stated in his
prepared testimony that there was no evidence that the US had left any POWs behind after
the war in SEA. During the question and answer period after he read his
prepared statement into the record, one member of the subcommittee (Hendon)
badgered LTG Tighe until he altered that statement. LTG Tighe succumbed to the
badgering and made the statement often quoted by activists, in which he said something to
the effect that in his personal opinion we had left POWs behind. Other members of
subcommittee who were familiar with the full range of information about POWs and MIAs that was available to the intelligence community (the members of the House Task Force on POW/MIA were members of that subcommittee), and who were familiar with Tighe's views, thought he had misspoken and they questioned him intensely on this point. Nevertheless, for reasons only he knew, Gen. Tighe stood by that statement.
I have personal knowledge that several members of the subcommittee, Gen. Tighe's two
immediate successors as Director DIA, and the other general officers who sat on the
so-called Tighe Commission, were genuinely puzzled by Gen. Tighe's statement.
After retiring from active duty, LTG Tighe made a number of public statements on the
POW-MIA issue. He appeared once on CBS "Sixty Minutes." Each time he
appeared publicly, he added to the number of POWs whom he "believed" were left
behind. At the time he was making these statements -- mid-1980's to early-1990's --
I was assigned to the DIA POW-MIA Office and we were amazed at what he said each time.
I watched his numbers grow from "a dozen or so" to "over
sixty." I also know that two DIA directors -- LTG Perroots, USAF, and LTG
Soyster, USA -- wrote LTG Tighe asking him to cite his evidence. He never did.