Cambodian Incursions
Toan Thang "Total Victory" Operations
and U.S. POWs

Part III
Updates, Documents & Summation


Please read Parts I & II First


© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 The Northwest Veterans Newsletter

No Duplication or Distribution allowed without expressed permission!
Contact: Roger Young

Playing "Our Nation's Heroes" - J. Cutright


Document URL: http://northwestvets.com/spurs/cambod-2.htm



Bayron Temple
Bayon Temple, Angkor Thum

The giant faces carved on the Bayon temple at the Angkor Thum complex in northwestern
Cambodia represent both the Buddha and King Jayavarman VII (ruled about 1130-1219).
Although a Buddhist temple, Angkor Thum was modeled after the great Hindu temple complex of Angkor Wat

Encarta Encyclopedia Simeone Huber/Tony Stone Images
Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Updated and Revised: 18 May 2004




Please be aware that the opinions stated in this report are my own unless otherwise indicated. My personal opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of fellow Silver Spurs or the 3/17th Air Cavalry Reunion committee. I invite other Silver Spurs, POW activists, researchers and other interested parties for their comments and views. With their EXPRESSED permission I would be most happy to post their replies.

My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my fellow 3/17th troopers for all their research on this subject. Much of what appears here is because of his personal research and to the authors of the books indicated throughout this report and in my appendix.



Part III:

In Parts I and II, I discussed the lesser known POW aspects of the incursions into Cambodia. Not just the better-known '70 Incursion which created a great outcry here in the states, but also a later cross-border op in which my troop again found itself providing air support for ARVN in 1971 after I had returned to The World.

About the same time as the '71 ARVN push into Cambodia, the infamous cross-border incursion into Laos was also underway. Lam Son 719 commenced on Feb 8th and ended on April 9th, 1971. This cross-border incursion into Laos often declared a victory for Nixon's policy of "Vietnamization," [turning the war over to ARVN] was - in fact - a dismal military failure. Press reports after the operation indicated ARVN casualties near 50%!

Let's explore further... Enter POW Douglas Ramsey...


POW/MIA Biography


Name: Douglas Kent Ramsey
Rank/Branch: Civilian
Unit: Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department
Date of Birth: ca 1934
Home City of Record: Boulder City NV
Date of Loss: 17 January 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110103N 1062628E (XT574182)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Truck

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources including "Civilian POW: Terror and Torture in South Vietnam" by Norman J. Brookens.


SYNOPSIS: On January 17, 1966, U.S. State Department Foreign Service Officer Douglas K. Ramsey was driving a truck northwest of Saigon when he was captured by Viet Cong forces. For Ramsey and for all Americans captured in South Vietnam, life would be brutally difficult. These men suffered from disease induced by an unfamiliar and inadequate diet - dysentery, edema, skin fungus and eczema as well as particularly brutal treatment from guards.

Douglas K. Ramsey was the first to be captured of a group of about 30 Americans who would be held along the Cambodian border. The was the only group of POWs who were not released from Hanoi in Operation Homecoming in 1973.

In 1967, the Viet Cong captured another prisoner of war -- Army Capt. William H. Hardy, who was captured on June 29, 1967 as he drove a truck near Saigon.

Around the time of the Tet Offensive in early 1968, the Viet Cong northwest of Saigon captured still more Americans: State Department employees, Norman Brookens and Richard Utecht; U.S, civilians Michael Kjome and James Rollins; Army Cpl. Thomas Van Putten and Australian businessman, Charles K. Hyland.

On April 22, 1968, four POWs who were held together -- Brookens, Utecht, Hyland and Rollins -- dared an escape. They had secretly learned to remove their chains, and on this rainy night they made their break. Within seconds of their freedom, they were soaked. It was impossible to walk in the thick jungle, so they crawled on hands and knees. They immediately became separated, and had barely reached the camp border when they were surrounded and recaptured.

For the next ten days, they were given only several spoons of rice and a pinch of salt. They were chained and bound with ropes so tight their arms and legs went completely numb. The ropes were removed after a month, but the chains remained. The four were rotated between a cage and a pit. Brookens remained in the pit for several months, lying in his own body waste,

Throughout the spring and summer of 1968, others were captured: Capt. John Dunn and Pvt. James M. Ray captured on March 18; Pvt. Ferdinand Rodriguez on April 14; Maj. Raymond Schrump on May 23; SSgt. Felix Neco-Quinones on July 16, SSgt. Bobby Johnson, SP4 Thomas Jones and SSgt. Kenneth Gregory on August 25.

The POWs were kept on the move; some held in groups, and some held alone. It was a mental challenge to try to keep track of their location, and the POWs report that they believed they were in Cambodia some of the time, and at other times near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During rest periods on the journey they were held in cages or in deep holes, or chained to trees,

In mid-July, Brookens, Utecht and Rollins were moved to another camp, but Hyland was left behind. He was released on November 26, 1968. For the first time, State Department learned that Brookens and Utecht had definitely been captured.

During 1969 and 1970, the Americans were moved frequently as U.S. air and artillery strikes came closer. The journeys were pure torture, and the POWs often lived chained to trees while cages were built for them. They were sometimes held in swampy areas thick with snakes and mosquitoes. Some of the marches occurred during monsoon season, and the prisoners, still wearing leg chains, walked in neck-deep water. During bomb strikes, some from thundering B52 and artillery, the men hid in bunkers.

The POWs' health began to reach its limits. They were suffering from dysentery, beriberi and jungle rot; some had festering wounds from their captures. In April, 1969, they moved again, living in the jungle until a new camp was built in Cambodia.

In early April 1969, an American prisoner escaped. Army Cpl. Thomas H, Van Putten had been captured near Tay Ninh as he operated a road grader on February 11, 1968. After making his way to friendly forces, Van Putten identified the POWs held by the Viet Cong in his camp.

In July 1969, a POW committed a minor offense for which the entire camp was severely punished for 30 days. The prisoner who caused the commotion was later taken from the camp. Some POWs reported that they last saw the man, who was only 21 years old, laying on the ground near his cage covered by a piece of plastic. They believed he was dead and he had died of torture, starvation and lack of medicine for his ailments. [NOTE: Brookens does not give the name of this POW who apparently died in July 1969. Although the incident does not match information found in James M. Ray's personnel file, and Jimmy Ray was not know to be dead, this account may refer to him.]

In late spring, 1969, the prisoners began to be put together, and they eventually reached a new camp with above-ground cages, which they believed was northwest of Tay Ninh near the Cambodian border . (1). Brookens and Utecht were put in the same cage, and it was the first time Brookens had talked to another American since the aborted escape attempt two years before. By June 1969, encroaching artillery forced the POWs westward into Cambodia, but on July 14, they returned to the border camp where they remained until December 1970. At this time, they were moved deep into Cambodia. Again they were chained while cages were built. The POWs remained here until April 1972, when they were moved to a new, and final camp.

In 1969, 1970, and 1971, more Americans were captured: SP4 Gary Guggenberger on January 14 1969; U.S. Civilians John Fritz, Jr., James Newingham and Tanos Kalil on February 8;~in 1970: SP4 Frederick Crowson and WO Daniel Maslowski on May 2; SP4 Keith Albert on May 21; SP4 Richard Springman on May 25; in 1971: WO James Hestand, captured March 17; American civilian Richard Waldhaus on August 4.

The POWs were in terrible condition -- painfully thin, with all manner of skin ailments, dysentery, and malaria. Brookens was so physically depleted that he could barely walk without the aid of walking sticks.

In 1972, more POWs arrived: MSgt. Kenneth Wallingford, Maj. Albert Carlson and Capt. Mark A. Smith, captured April 7; Capt. George Wanat, Jr. and Capt. Johnnie Ray, captured April 8; Air Force Capt. David Baker, captured June 27; and Marine Capt, James Walsh, Jr., captured September 26.

Then on the morning of February 12, 1973, the men were told they were going home. By this time, there were 27 in all, five of them civilians. The group was taken to a small airport outside Loc Ninh, and after 11 hours of waiting, they were finally allowed to board the helicopters and start for home,

Norm Brookens had lost 55 pounds since his capture, and was treated for a ruptured colon, a heart condition, jungle rot, malaria and beriberi.

Thomas H, Van Putten resides in Michigan and had a leg amputated in September 1990 as a result of complications stemming from injuries during his captivity.

James M. Ray and Tanos E. Kalil remained missing in action and were not returned in 1973. Kalil's name was on the PRG list as having died in captivity, Ray's fate is unknown. [End]

Webmaster's Footnotes:

(1) This describes the Fish Hook area often discussed in Parts I & II.

--- Bio courtesy of the P.O.W. Network. Emphasis is Ours --



Ramsey's bio speaks volumes by itself. But while researching Ramsey, I found another man of interest.

Enter.... John Paul Vann....




FOF May 13 - May 19 1971 reports the following:

U.S. CIVILIAN GETS TOP POST. The U.S. command announced May 15 [1971] the appointment of John Paul Vann, 46, as director of the Second Regional Assistance Group in Military Region II in central South Vietnam. He was the first civilian to have overall supervision of American military and civilian activities in one of the country's four military regions. Operational control of the 67,000 American troops in Military Region II would remain under the U.S. Military Assistance Command.

For the past five years Vann had headed the U.S. pacification program in the Mekong Delta.



Neil Sheehan, mentioned in the CIA Reports Red Spy Ring, is the author of, A Bright Shining Lie - John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam and After the War Was Over - Hanoi and Saigon.

Sheehan reports Vann was killed the evening of June 9, 1972 approximately three miles south of the Chu Pao (PAO Mountain) Pass below Kontum near Montagnard hamlet of Ro Uay. Vann was buried in Arlington on June 16, 1972.

In Sheehan's book, he reports: "They [ARVN] heard a helicopter approaching through the dark sky and then saw the fireball and heard the explosion of a crash. The Army aviators found him."

Of interest Sheehan reported that witnesses did not report any shots being fired despite North Vietnam's public claims of shooting Vann's chopper down. Later investigation showed the Jet-Ranger had crashed at cruising power into the trees. Speculation is that the crash was a result of vertigo.

Being a civilian, Vann is not listed on the Wall.

Now we see John Paul Vann, who was appointed at age 46, director of the Second Regional Assistance Group in Military Region II in central South Vietnam. Certainly not a low-level post. And Vann is certainly a man of interest.

My wife, Pam, who is a Vietnam-era veteran who worked for four years at CINCPAC, Joint Staff, and who worked on files for Operation Homecoming, recognized Vann's name. Vann's name also appears in a book by Neil Sheehan. Sheehan's name also appears in CIA Reports Red Spy Ring.

Sheehan authored the Pulitzer Prize winning, A Bright Shining Lie - John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam and later, After the War Was Over - Hanoi and Saigon.

Sheehan reports Vann had a friend who was captured and held in and near the Cambodian border. The POWs felt they were northwest of Tay Ninh (Fish Hook). Vann's friend's name was a POW Douglas Ramsey, a civilian State Department employee. Ramsey was later released, along with 26 others in February of 1973, from Cambodia. In the excerpt below please bear in mind that Vann was a supporter of President Nixon's decision to attack the sanctuaries inside Cambodia in 1970. But earlier he was not.


Who was John Paul Vann?

Excerpts from "A Bright Shining Lie" by Neil Sheehan

Vantage Books - A Division of Random House
ISBN 0-679-72414-I

~ Note: Emphasis is this newsletter's ~

Sheehan reports in his award-winning book, "A Bright and Shining Lie":

"A willingness to take risks in his professional life was another quality he had in great measure. He displayed it during his first year in Vietnam, from March 1962 to April 1963, and showed it often in later years. While serving as senior advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry division in the Mekong Delta that first year, Vann saw that the war was being lost. The ambassador and the commanding general in South Vietnam were telling the Kennedy administration that everything was going well and that the war was being won. Vann believed then and never ceased to believe that the war could be won if it was fought with sound tactics and strategy. When the general and his staff in Saigon did not listen to him, and his reports aroused their displeasure, he leaked his meticulously documented assessments to the American correspondents in the country. He was reassigned to the Pentagon at the end of his tour, and he conducted a campaign there to try to convince the nation's military leadership that corrective action had to be taken if the United States was not to be defeated in Vietnam. He was rebuffed. Having completed twenty years of active duty, he chose to retire from the Army on July 31, 1963. [As a Lt. Col.] His retirement was interpreted by most of his friends and associates as an act of protest so that he could speak out publicly on the war. Vann proceeded to do precisely that in newspaper, magazine, and television interviews and in speeches to whatever groups would listen to him.

" He went back to Vietnam in March I965 as a provincial pacification representative for the Agency for International Development (AID). He was never to return to the United States, except for occasional home leaves, until his death. He distinguished himself as pacification representative in one of the most dangerous provinces in the country just west of Saigon and by the end of 1966 was made chief of the civilian pacification program for the eleven provinces in the corps region surrounding the capital. In his reports to his superiors during those years, Vann denounced as cruel and self-defeating the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of the countryside which the U.S. high command was conducting to try to deprive the Vietnamese Communists of their population base. Large sections of the peasantry were driven into slums in the cities and into refugee camps near the district capitals and larger towns. Vann never hesitated to use whatever level of force he felt was required to further his cause, but he considered it morally wrong and stupid to wreak unnecessary violence on the innocent.

" In 1967 his professional boldness again put him in disfavor with those in authority. He warned that the strategy of attrition being pursued by Gen. William Westmoreland with a 475,000-man American army was not succeeding, that security in the countryside was worsening, that the Vietnamese Communists were as strong as ever. Vann was vindicated when, on January 31, 1968, the Communists took advantage of Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year holiday, to launch a surprise offensive against installations in cities and towns throughout the country, penetrating even the U.S. Embassy compound in the middle of Saigon. The war-of-attrition strategy was discredited. Westmoreland was relieved as commanding general in Vietnam.

"Although Vann hurt his family and others close to him in his personal life, his loyalty to friends, associates, and subordinates seemed limitless over the years. After the Tet Offensive his best Vietnamese friend, a former lieutenant colonel and province chief who had left the South Vietnamese Army to go into politics, launched a complicated scheme to negotiate a settlement to the war and started to denounce the Saigon regime. Several senior U.S. officials suspected Vann's friend of seeking to form a coalition government with the Communists in the hope of securing a prominent place for himself. Vann disapproved of his friend's negotiating scheme, but he risked his career again in a vain attempt to save his friend from jail. He was nearly dismissed and sent home. Vann also parted over the war with his best American friend, Daniel Ellsberg, who had earlier been a comrade in the struggle to make the Vietnam endeavor succeed. Ellsberg began an antiwar crusade in the United States while Vann continued his crusade to win the war in Vietnam. Their friendship remained intact. When Vann was killed, Ellsberg was preparing to go on trial in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles for copying the Pentagon Papers. Vann had told Ellsberg that he would testify in his behalf. Ellsberg wept at the loss of the man to whom he had been closest in life.

and later....

"John Vann had once disapproved of cross-border marches as a diversion from the real problem. 'If we go across the border, there will always be one more sanctuary just beyond the one we clean out,' he told Philip Geyelin, the editorial-page editor of the Washington Post, in December 1967. With his new perspective he enthusiastically approved of Nixon's [1970] thrust into Cambodia, because he now also viewed it as a worthy purchase of time for the war in Vietnam.

"Had Vann known the effect of the cross-border venture on Ramsey, his reaction would have been more complicated. He suspected that Ramsey was dead from disease or a bombing raid. He had been unable to obtain any firm information on Ramsey since the smuggled letter in February 1967 and a fragmentary report shortly afterward. He was careful not to convey his suspicion in the letters he sent once or twice a year to Ramsey's parents to encourage them.

"Ramsey was in Cambodia, chained to a tree in a patch of jungle where he and seven other prisoners in his group had been marched by their captors to evade the American troops crossing the frontier. [1970] He was so weak from a two-thirds reduction in rations, from diarrhea, and from a renewed onslaught of beriberi that he could hardly raise his arms above his head to adjust the plastic sheeting that was his only shelter. He had survived 'the Hell Hole,' as he had named the bivouac camp in northern Binh Duong, he had beaten the worst of the beriberi and trekked to new camps astride the Cambodian border in the mountains of the lower Central Highlands, and he had escaped B-52s in the fall of I969 that had driven the guards to yet another camp a few miles inside Cambodia - three consecutive days and nights of Arc Light strikes on the ridges and in the valleys all around him, fifteen raids in one night of trembling earth and thunder and huge fireballs, again three weeks later with no warning in darkness and rain, the bombs marching right up to the edge of a low ridge behind the prison compound, the concussion deafening, the shattered tree limbs and debris whirling through the camp - only to come to this hiding place [in 1970] with his captors to avoid the advancing American soldiers, having to dodge infantry firefights and artillery barrages and helicopter gunships on strafing and rocket runs as they fled. He was kept chained to the tree in the patch of jungle for five weeks, unshackled just to relieve himself and for a rare washing, before the guards felt secure enough to return to the camp.

" By that time, Ramsey no longer had access to the chloroquinine tablets he had been taking to control the recurring malaria, and he had a fever. He was dizzy too, because the starvation diet had affected the balance mechanism in his inner ears, and he had night blindness. The moon did not look its normal color to him. It shone a bloody red. The march back to camp took fifteen hours. The guards had to lead him after darkness came. He fell six times in the last quarter mile." --

and later in the book...

"Doug Ramsey learned of Vann's death in his seventh and last prison camp, this one near Kratie in Cambodia, where he had been moved in April." [1972] -- [End of Excerpts]



In Parts I & II we presented evidence that indicates that our intelligence agencies and the American government knew U.S. POWs were being held in Cambodia. However, there was a doubt in my mind if our policy makers were aware of POW camps PRIOR to the '70 Incursion. I think we can put that doubt to rest at this time. What I know now is that U.S. Intelligence Agencies must certainly have been aware of at least one particular POW camp PRIOR to the 1970 Cambodian Incursion.

In fact, an article recently surfaced which was published in the Hawk magazine, the official 1st Aviation Brigades in-country publication, that details the rescue of an escaped POW near Tay Ninh in April of 1969 which removes further doubt if such camps in Cambodia were known to exist! And C Troop of my own squadron, was responsible for his rescue!

See C - 3/17th Rescues POW - Apr '69

The Ramsey information clearly shows 27 Americans were released from a separate camp from the Hanoi prison system. The Hanoi prison system is where the vast majority of those released during Operation Homecoming were held. This would clearly indicate that there was, at that time, a second-tier prisoner of war system. Many who condemn POW activists claim there was not a second-tier prison system and that those held in Hanoi knew ALL the names of U.S. POWs being held by the enemy. Yet the POW community knew nothing of the D Troop 3/17th raid until just recently nor who was held in that camp.

It has also been shown that the missions may well have been compromised by security leaks. Perhaps the following excerpt of Gen. Secord's testimony before the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA's in 1992 provides some further insight




By Mr.Kravitz (Resuming):

    Q. You've talked about inter-agency relationships that you had while you were the Desk Officer. You mentioned Mr.Sullivan. (2) Did you also have any contacts with Frank Sieverts from the State Department, who was the head of the POW Office in that agency?

    A. I don't think so.

    Page 97

    Q. [to Secord] What exactly was Mr.Sullivan's position in 1972 and 1973, when you were the Laos Desk Officer?

    A. He was DAS for East Asia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia.

    Q. Okay. I think these Inter-agency meetings -- and he was the Chairman of this group?

    A. Of the Ad Hoc Group on Indochina.

    Q. Were POW issues discussed in meetings of that group?

    A. Oh, I'm sure they were. But I don't have specific recall. The relationship with State were not all that good.

    Q. What do you mean by that?

    A. I mean most of us saw them as a part of the problem rather than part of the solution. These onerous rules of engagement, for instance, were, at least in part, because of State Department concerns. The main reason why you had all this inordinate number of POW's and MIA's is because of the rules of engagement. If you want to conclude your investigation right now, you can do that with one line: Rules of engagement were whacko; therefore, we lost a lot of people we shouldn't have. So, you know, military people weren't all that

Page 98

    enthralled with the civilian leadership, at least part of which came from State.

    I already mentioned the Geneva Accords. I might also point out they were not coordinated with or even informed on the Christmas bombing campaign, not even informed, because we couldn't trust them not to leak. Does that give you a flavor for the environment of the time?

    Q. It does. I think that same type of environment existed all the way up to the very top. I know that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs really noted a similar military-civilian disagreement on pretty much everything when we spoke with him a couple of weeks ago.

    A. Which one, Moorer?

    Q. Yes.

[End of testimony excerpt]

Webmaster's Footnote:

(2) For more on Mr.Sullivan, see the The USAF CHECO Report, and the bio on Evelyn Anderson & Beatrice Kosin.



We have also uncovered some information which may be of additional value in this dicussion. This concerns the case of Dr. Eleanor Ardel Vietti, a civilian doctor who worked at a leprosarium hospital near Ban Me Thuot and who was captured by the VC on 30 May 1962 and was never returned.

Below is an excerpt from the 24 May '72 edition of The Alliance Witness:

    "Last September, [1971] Rev. Donald L. Bubna talked with Mrs. Mitchell at Ban Me Thuot concerning the whereabouts of her husband and the other two captives. Mrs. Mitchell referred to the military push into Cambodia in 1970. "There was a report that some tribespeople had talked with an American lady and a man near the border as they were coming into Viet Nam," she said. "They reported that they were those who were taken about eight years before that. The Americans immediately went out and found the hospital complex where it was reported to be located, but it had already been evacuated. Even though our people weren't there, we feel definitely that these were our people." Mrs. Mitchell continued, "Then too, we had heard through another contact that they were really very valuable to the Viet Cong right at this time. There was such a big military push that they were needed in the hospital work so the Viet Cong couldn't give them up yet, but they were going to take good care of them."

The fate of Dr. Vietti still remains unknown...

And as additional evidence we offer you to following declassified documents, which dispels any myth that the U.S. government was not aware of American POWs being held inside of Cambodia prior to the '70 incursion:



Declassified Docs

The following documents have been declassified and recently released by the CIA on 10 Dec '98 thanks to VFW Post 2713's POW Chair, Pete Peters. The following three pages dated 4 Feb 1967 once and for all put to rest if the U.S. Government was aware of possible American POWs in the Mimot area of Cambodia PRIOR to the 1970 Cambodia Incursion.

I thank Pete Peters and VFW Post 2713 for getting this document through the FOIA.

    Roger Young

Page 1 of 3.Gif

Page 2 of 3.Gif

Page 3 of 3.Gif



Now, let's pin down more on the "elusive" location of COSVN.... and it's personal connection to POWs....



Mimot Secret Revealed!

Earlier we make much mention of Mimot. A copy of two maps were sent to me by Dave Murray, a very well respected Vietnam veteran who serves as New Jersey's POW/MIA Chair for Vietnam Veterans of America. Dave has been keeping up with our report on operations in Cambodia and the possible connection to our captured and unrepatriated fellow soldiers. Recently he came across a book written by one of our former enemies which sheds additional light on the significance of the Mimot area in Cambodia. Below is a copy of that map and a short excerpt from the book entitled: "A Viet Cong Memoir" by former PRG Minister of Justice, Truong Nhu Tang, Vintage Books, Copyright 1985 (Random House).

The excerpt also clarifies if our intel was aware of the location of COSVN prior to the 1970 & '71 Cambodia incursions. It is also interesting to note that earlier we had found that just prior to the 1970 and 1971 incursions this area was NOT bombed prior to those specific incursions which would be usual practice. Yet from the excerpt below we learn that the Mimot area was often the target of "secret" B-52 bombings previously. It would appear the only ones to not know of these bombings would be the American people and soldiers in Vietnam who would perish in that area.

Our sincere thanks to our fellow veteran for sending us this important information.



[page] 168 A VIET CONG MEMOIR:

"It was something of a miracle that from 1968 through 1970 the attacks, though they caused significant casualties generally, did not kill a single one of the military or civilian leaders in the headquarters complexes. This luck, though, had a lot to do with accurate advance warning of the raids, which allowed us to move out of the way or take refuge in our bunkers before the bombs began to rain down. · B-52s flying out of Okinawa and Guam would be picked up by Soviet intelligence trawlers plying the South China Sea. The planes' headings and air speed would be computed and relayed to COSVN headquarters, which would then order NLF or Northern elements in the anticipated target zones to move away perpendicularly to the attack trajectory. Flights originating from the Thai bases were monitored both on radar and visually by our intelligence nets there and the information similarly relayed.

"Often the warnings would give us time to grab some rice and escape by foot or bike down one of the emergency routes. Hours later we would return to find, as happened on several occasions, that there was nothing left. It was as if an enormous scythe had swept through the jungle, felling the giant teak and go trees like grass in its way, shredding them into billions of scattered splinters. On these occasions--when the B-52s had found their mark--the complex would be utterly destroyed: food, clothes, supplies, documents, everything. It was not just that things were destroyed; in some awesome way they had ceased to exist. You would come back to where your lean-to and bunker had been, your home, and there would simply be nothing there, just an unrecognizable landscape gouged by immense craters." -- [End of excerpt]

When did COSVN Move?
Update Feb '00


[page] 177 A VIET CONG MEMOIR:

"Then on March 18, 1970, while Sihanouk was vacationing in France, his opponents struck, deposing him as head of the Cambodian government. Sihanouk's removal was for us a cause of instant anxiety, as we now looked over our shoulders at Cambodia, not as a refuge but as a potential danger. With Sihanouk's less-than-farsighted minister Lon Nol in power, Phnom Penh immediately began to stare in our direction with undisguised hostility. Sensing the possibility of entrapment between a Saigon/American offensive from the east and Royal Cambodian Army pressure from the west, COSVN did not wait to monitor developments in the Cambodian capital. On March 19 the permanent staff moved out toward positions that had been readied deep inside Kratie. By the time troops from the American 25th Division struck the headquarters area during the American/Cambodian incursion, the COSVN command staff had been gone almost two months."

Escape Route of PRG Forces
Update Jan '00

PRG Escape Route.Jpg
Map credit: A Viet Cong Memoir

On April 2nd, 1970 following the pullout of COSVN leadership in March, PRG leadership began their long trek towards Kratie along Route 7 which was under heavy attack by ARVN forces. (U.S. forces would not cross until a month later). A corridor was opened by the PLAF's 9th Division blocking the ARVN thrust from the East, while the PLAF's 5th Division blocked Cambodian forces from the West. The 5th Division would also be involved in the later 1971 Cambodian incursion near the Chup Rubber plantation where ARVN forces would be devastated.

You will see in this report MACV in-country planning for the American/Cambodia incursion purportedly did not take place until late April, 1970!

Early 1971 CIA Report Indicates Move and American POWs Sighted!

We have also received a declassified CIA Intelligence Information Report dtd 12Feb71 of a live-sighting report of American POWs in the Mimot area being moved to Kratie during the 1970 U.S. incursion. This CIA report also supports Truong Nhu Tang's claims (above) that enemy forces were moving to Kratie as a result of the 1970 U.S. cross-border operation into Cambodia and much more!

Subject: "POW camps for allied prisoners in Cambodia subordinate to the General Office for South Vietnam -- Problems created for the camps and hospitals in the area of allied military action."

CIA Intelligence Information Report
-- Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence --



From: Dictionary of the Vietnam War -- Edited by James S. Olson
Peter Bedrick Books, New York
ISBN 0-87226-238-3 -- © 1987 by James S. Olson

On March 18, 1969, the U.S. Air Force began Operation Menu, a series of secret, illegal B-52 bombings of National Liberation Front (NLF; see Vietcong) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia (see Kampuchea). It continued for fifteen months until the Cambodian invasion (May 1970), when it was renamed Operation Freedom Deal and expanded to include "targets" throughout Cambodia. Freedom Deal continued until Congress prohibited funds for bombing Cambodia effective August 15, 1973. By their end 16,527 sorties had been flown and 383,851 tons of bombs dropped.

General Creighton Abrams had wanted to attack sanctuaries for some time; however, President Lyndon Johnson repeatedly refused permission. When Richard Nixon became president in January 1969, these requests were resubmitted with the justifications that striking sanctuaries would reduce NLF-NVA offensive capabilities and the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) (the NLF-NVA command structure) had been located [webmaster's emphasis] and could be destroyed by either ground or air attack. After initial hesitation, Nixon approved, for reasons of his own. The bombing was to "signal" Hanoi that Nixon was "tougher" than Johnson and to lend credence to the "mad man" image he wanted to create among North Vietnamese leaders.

"Menu" was a series of attacks (meals) against NLF-NVA Base Areas: "Breakfast" -- Base Area 353, 25 square kilometers near the Fishhook, inhabited by 1,640 Cambodians (U.S. military population estimates) and the supposed headquarters of COSVN; "Lunch" -- Base Area 609, located on the Laotian-Cambodian-Vietnamese borders and inhabited by 198 Cambodians; "Snack" -- Base Area 351, 101 square kilometers in the Fishhook including one town and 383 Cambodians; ''Dinner'' -- Base Area 352, located in the Fishhook including one town and 770 Cambodians; and "Dessert" -- Base Area 350, located north of the Fishhook with 120 Cambodians. The military did not recommend bombing Base Areas 354, 704, and 707 because they had substantial Cambodian populations. Nonetheless, Base Area 704 was authorized as "Supper" with 247 B52 missions flown against it. In March 1970 Nixon authorized expanded bombing of Laos, including B-52 raids against the Plain of Jars.

Incursion 2.Gif
[Map courtesy of "Incursion"]

Officially, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam claimed the Base Areas were not inhabited by Cambodian civilians, but private military reports indicated awareness of civilian presence and expectations of civilian casualties. These reports contended that although casualties should be light because the Base Areas were sparsely populated and Cambodians lived apart from the NLF-NVA, "some Cambodian casualties would be sustained... [and] the surprise effect of attacks would tend to increase casualties... [due to] probable lack of protective shelter around Cambodian homes." The number of Cambodians killed is unknown.

Nixon, very concerned that Operation Menu not become public knowledge, ordered elaborate security measures which included falsification of military records, an offense punishable by court-martial under Article 107 of The Uniform Code of Military Justice, so there was absolutely no record of the bombings having occurred. Nixon and Henry Kissinger's justification was that secrecy was necessary to protect Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who gave his "tacit consent." They do not provide evidence to support this proposition, and Prince Sihanouk vehemently denies he consented, tacitly or otherwise.

Sources: William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia, 1979; John Morrocco, The Vietnam Experience. Rain of Fire: Air War, 1969-1973, 1984.

    Samuel Freeman



Below is more disturbing information on COSVN and POWs:



The "Cuban Program" and COSVN

House Testimony of former POW Mike Benge
on "The Cuban Program"
-- 4 Nov '99




Recent Significant Updates:

Cubans Known to Interrogate U.S. POWs in 1965
Update Apr '00

First To Escape
Courtesy of "Vietnam" magazine & The History Channel

"After being debriefed [in 1965], Isaac Camacho was promoted to master sergeant, and he later received a field promotion to captain. [U.S.] AUTHORITIES TOLD HIM NOT TO SPEAK ABOUT HIS ENCOUNTER WITH THE CUBANS."




Additonal Supporting Evidence

Excerpt from The Bamboo Cage
by Nigel Cawthorn

Leo Cooper (Great Britain)
ISBN 0-85052-1483 (British Library)

~ Note: Emphasis is this newsletter's ~


"Men were captured in Cambodia, but they were also brought across the border from South Vietnam and held in Viet Cong or NVA camps there. Later they may have been moved on to North Vietnam or back into the South. In 1967 the US Department of Defense heard from the South Vietnamese security agency that the 10th VC regiment had moved American PoWs captured at Dak To and Hill 875 from Kien Tuong province to Long An province. There they were divided into two groups - one of thirty-six men, another of 100. The first was taken to the Pro Hut Woods, the second to Ta Mo in Cambodia.

"Fifty US PoWs were held at a camp in the Donkal Region of Cambodia until February, 1969, when they were moved back into the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam. The camp was to be used to house NVA soldiers prior to the offensive in May, 1969. A hundred American PoWs were seen being moved to a camp near Phum O Ta Mao, Cambodia, close to the border with Vietnam, in January of that year.

"Two reports talk of sixty-four American PoWs being held in a 'museum' near Kratie City in 1971. The NVA and the Khmer Rouge fell out over their fate. The NVA thought they should be taken to Hanoi for safekeeping. The Khmer Rouge said that, as they were captured in Cambodia, they should be kept in Cambodia. However, in 1973 Dr Kissinger maintains that he was told there were no prisoners in Cambodia.

"By and large those that were held by the VC or the NVA were lucky. They seemed to have been relatively well treated and moved on, eventually, to North Vietnam or back to camps in the South. Whether they came home or not is another matter. It is, however, extremely unlikely that any Americans captured by the Khmer Rouge lived to tell the tale. One intelligence document even reports the Khmer Rouge's tactic of grabbing VC and NVA stragglers - at that time the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were their allies. They'd hold them for a bit to see if anyone missed them. If not, they killed them. The members of a Mike force - a major, a captain and a sergeant - were captured by the white scarf faction of the Khmer Rouge when their helicopter was downed in the early months of 1968. They should not have been in Cambodia and don't appear to be on the DIA's missing list and I don't give much for their chances. A Department of Defense study blithely speculates that it may have been the Khmer Rouge's general policy to kill all foreigners.

"Despite the fact that these 10,000 pages of documents published by the Department of Defense are 'uncorrelated' intelligence, that does not mean that there are not any names in them.

"The names of civilians like Doug Ramsey, an American captured on the Cambodian border in 1966 and released by the Viet Cong in 1973, occasionally slip by the censor's pencil. Traitors like McKinley Nolan who did not come back are mentioned, so are guys who perhaps said rather too much during their interrogation by the VC. But there are other names of men who were in captivity and not returned that have slipped through, either due to some oversight or because their name does not appear on the DIA's roster of missing men.

"There are several sighting reports of Corporal James Henry McLean, who was captured by the Viet Cong on 10 February, 1965, in Phuong Long province, up to a year after he was taken. Other prisoners saw him in captivity and he was still listed as a prisoner in April, 1973. He was not returned and was declared officially dead on 18 September, 1978.

"An informant tentatively identified Captain Lawrence Booth as one of the American prisoners he saw being held by the NVA at a prison camp near Kratie City, Cambodia, in August, 1971. The US PoWs were chopping down trees. The one identified as Booth was fit and well, though his arm had been injured and had been amputated. Booth never came back." -- [End of Excerpt]



Now we turn to an interesting discussion on compromised missions....




The Sinking of the Scorpion

13 Sep 98: On May 21, 1998, Ed Offley who is the Military Reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Vietnam veteran, wrote a most- interesting article on the sinking of the USS Scorpion. The USS Scorpion was an attack-sub which was lost on May 22, 1968. Mr. Offley's article suggests that the USS Scorpion may not have been lost due to mechanical failure which led to massive flooding as has been suggested by the Navy, but MAY have been sunk by a Soviet submarine with a torpedo. Others sincerely believe the Scorpion was lost from a malfunctioning torpedo.

In his reports, Mr. Offley raises the issue of a serious security breach. History shows how the British capture of Germany's "Enigma" decryption equipment during WWII was very instrumental in the Allied victory of Germany during that war. It is possible that the same could have happened to the U.S. during the Vietnam conflict.

The Walker Spy Ring

In 1967, Navy Warrant Officer John Walker contacted the Soviets and "...offered to sell the KGB top secret 'keylist' cards and maintenance manuals for cryptographic systems used by the Navy, according to his confession, made after his arrest in 1985."

Mr. Offley also reports that this knowledge of our 'keylist' may have led to the capture of the Pueblo in the Sea of Japan.

"On Jan. 23, 1968, 10 months after Walker first contacted the Soviets, North Korean military units captured the Pueblo in the Sea of Japan. Seized along with the ship and its 82-man crew were at least 19 cryptographic communications machines used to encode and decode Navy messages."

and later...

"In particular, the Soviets had obtained a model of the KW-7 'Orestes' two-way tele-typewriter, at that time the most modern encrypted communications machine for the Navy and other military services. More than 80 percent of the Atlantic Fleet ships and all submarines - including the Scorpion - relied on the KW-7 for secure messages in 1968, according to declassified Navy reports."

Offley reported that the keylists were reportedly destroyed, however the crypto gear itself was not destroyed prior to the Pueblo's capture.

Mr. Offley thus has made a case that the Scorpion's mission and whereabouts were known by the Soviets. And makes a case that our sub may have been being shadowed by a Soviet submarine and sunk.

One must wonder at this point if much of the message traffic going between CINCPAC in Hawaii and Vietnam was also being intercepted by the Soviets and being read, possibly almost as it was being transmitted, to or from CINCPAC.

B-52 Targets Known?

In my research on Cambodia Incursions it has been reported in "A Viet Cong Memoir" (above) authored by a former VC enemy that they were given almost 30-minutes notice of our B-52 bombing raids. While advance notice of such bombing raids could be explained by simply watching our B-52's taking off from Okinawa, the actual specific target areas would be unknown. Others believe the targets were known from the enemy monitoring our UHF radio broadcasts, thought to be secure at the time.

The Loss of Lima Site 85

In May of '68 as reported above, the Scorpion was lost. Just a few months earlier, several highly-sensitive sites in Laos, including Lima-Site85 which was a highly-classified TACAN site that reportedly was installed to allow U.S. fighters to bomb Hanoi in bad weather.

U.S. and former North Vietnamese have stated all missing U.S. personnel were killed when Site-85 was overrun on March 11, 1968. Others suggest the possibility that several, including Melvin Holland, were captured and possibly found their way to the Soviet Union for interrogation. It is also noteworthy that the North Vietnamese never made mention of the capture of U.S. personnel or equipment in Laos. Such disclosure could have caused considerable outcry since officially U.S. forces were NOT allowed in Laos.

Movement of U.S. POWs

In April, 1970, ARVN forces began conducting cross-border raids into the Parrot's Beak area of Cambodia. On May 2nd, U.S. forces crossed into Cambodia in the Fish Hook area. The capture of NVA forces had been prevented because of earlier movement of major NVA forces to the west. While large caches were found, the hoped for capture of COSVN was averted. Also U.S. bombing strikes the morning of the U.S. incursion did little damage to NVA forces or major caches. It is also now known that American POWs had been held in the Fish Hook area. No American POWs were found during this or other incursions into Cambodia. It has been reported that following the 1970 Incursion, American POWs were moved to or near Kratie to prevent their possible repatriation by U.S. or ARVN forces.

In the summer of 1970, SECDEF Laird proposed to Pres. Nixon a daring raid to rescue American POWs at Son Tay. The raid occurred on the evening of Nov. 21, 1970 and no POWs were present. Some have suggested that the U.S. POWs had been moved from Son Tay months earlier due to flooding. [See: The Son Tay Raid]

In early 1971, ARVN forces again crossed into the Fish Hook region of Cambodia supported by American Air Cav units, including my old unit the Silver Spurs (A Trp., 3/17th Air Cav) and the Blue Max from the 1st Cav. Two large columns of ARVN armor en route to relief encircled ARVN forces at Snoul were virtually wiped-out by a large NVA ambush.

In Feb. '71 and paying no heed to SOG's warnings who had vast experience operating inside of Laos and Cambodia and whose missions since 1968 had been met with increased resistance by NVA security forces guarding the trail, ARVN forces were ordered to cross into Laos (Lam Son 719) in attempts to cut the Hoi Chi Minh trail. This tragic operation into Laos would publicly expose the failure of the Nixon/Kissinger "Vietnamization" policy while U.S. troops were being withdrawn from Vietnam at alarming rates. While initial ARVN penetration went moderately well and large caches were found, ARVN forces suffered VERY HEAVY casualities - nearly 50% - when they attempted to withdraw from Laos just as SOG had predicted. The serious losses to ARVN from these two operations alone would have significant impact later in the fall of South Vietnam. In fact, following Lam Son 719, the NVA began moving troops and equipment into I Corps in South Vietnam. A prelude to the later NVA "Easter Offensive."

The Christmas Bombings

In the October 2000 issue of Vietnam magazine in an in-depth review of Christmas Bombings of Hanoi in 1972 ["Lessons Learned from Linebacker II"] also made the following revealing statement:

"...U.S. Navy Cpatain H.E. Rutlage, a former POW who was being held in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison in downtown Hanoi at the time, noted that the North Vietnamese government warned 'old folks, women and children' out of Hanoi on or about December 8. This suggests that the operation had been compromised days before and that North Vietnam was aware the captial would be targeted."

The Christmas bombings commenced the night of 18 December, 1972...

"Moles" in MACVSOG?

"...it’s that ambush-like reception despite a B-52 strike that opens the disturbing possibility of treachery and, it turns out, it was more than a mere possibility. One year after the [1969] COSVN raid, the NSA twice intercepted enemy messages warning of imminent SOG operations which could only have come from a mole or moles in SOG headquarters. It would only be long after the war that it became clear Hanoi’s Trinh Sat had penetrated SOG, inserting at least one high ranking South Vietnamese officer in SOG whose treachery killed untold Americans, including, most likely, the COSVN raiders...."

-- Maj. Plaster, former SOG recon team leader
SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam

Message Traffic

What all these incidents have in common is the high probability of these missions being compromised at high levels. And one must understand that CINCPAC in Hawaii, was the "Pacific Pentagon." Almost all message traffic to and from MACVSOG, MACV, the Pentagon, the State Dept. and Whitehouse were routed thru CINCPAC.

I can only assume that since the KW-7 crypto machine was the best of its kind available in 1968, that it is very possible that it was also used for message traffic between the White House, Pentagon, CINCPAC and MACV. With the selling of U.S. keylists to the Soviets by Walker, and the capture of the KW-7 cyrpto machine in the Pueblo incident, one might jump to the conclusion that the reason so many of our missions from 1968 on were seemingly compromised might thus be explained. The capture of crypto gear was known. But according to Mr. Offley's report U.S. Intelligence agencies still felt that communications were secure because of the keylists. Unknown at the time was the fact that Walker had furnished the Soviets with the vital keylist information! Thus, the knowledge of 'Orestes' message traffic may have been as damaging to U.S. efforts in Vietnam, as the capture of 'Enigma' by British Intelligence during WWII was to Germany. Such intelligence passed to the North Vietnamese could also explain many of the incidents reported above in our Cambodian Incursion report.

Update: On 9 June 2001, FoxNews ran a special on spies. Oleg Kalugin, a reported former high-level KGB official stated about Walker:

"His access to cryptographic material, allowed us to read all U.S. secret communications between the United States Naval Headquarters and its Navies across the world."

Offley also reported; "In 1986, Walker pleaded guilty to espionage and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado." (*)

If others have more knowledge that has been declassified on the sinking of the USS Scorpion, please contact Ed Offley at Ed_Offley@yahoo.com

Since the Seattle P-I does not have the Scorpion article posted on the web, Pam has requested permission from Mr. Offley to post his informative articles on the "USS Scorpion: Mystery of the Deep" on our website. I believe many will find his article of great interest. Mr. Offley's article might partially explain how the enemy was so informed of major U.S. operations in Southeast Asia!


Update: On 3 April 2002: Former KGB official denies information was provided to NVA, acknowledges the Soviets could read message traffic:

All about Boris Solomatin, interview by Pete Earley

"...For more than 17 years, Walker enabled your enemies to read your most sensitive military secrets," he said. "We knew everything! There has never been a security breach of this magnitude and length in the history of espionage..."

Related link: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1995/vp950521/05210044.htm

Comment: Boris Solomatrin denied that the message traffic was provided to the NVA for fear that Walker's spy ring would be compromised. On the other hand I don't believe the former Soviet Union would asknowledge that such message traffic was provided to the NVA at this point in time. Current relations between Russia and the U.S. not to mention U.S. aide would be placed in jeopardy if the former Soviet Union admitted that such vital information led to the deaths of over 58,000 U.S. forces and the collapse of South Vietnam.

What is important is that Solomatrin acknowledges that the Soviet Union could read our message traffic in real time as we have speculated in this article. More importantly, if a handful of low-level ex-military personnel came to this conclusion with a few bits and pieces many years later, why is it that those in the highest level of our military, the intelligence agencies and government did not recognize the compromised message traffic during the war?

Our viewers must reach their own conclusions!


* -- Soviet Spy Ring Member Released

© The Associated Press

[16 Feb 2000]

BOSTON (AP) - Michael Lance Walker, the youngest member of a family spy ring for the Soviet Union, was released from a halfway house Wednesday.

Walker, 37, the son of the ring's leader, John A. Walker Jr., spent two months in the halfway house after serving 15 years of a 25-year prison sentence. He will be on supervised probation for the rest of the sentence.

The spy ring operated for 17 years, causing what authorities described as extensive damage to national security.

Michael Walker was arrested in 1985 on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, where he was responsible for destroying secret messages. A box filled with 15 pounds of secret documents he had stolen was found hidden near his bunk.

The Navy seaman pleaded guilty along with his father, a retired Navy warrant officer, to spying charges. He testified that he became a spy in 1983 ``for the money and to please my father.''

John Walker admitted passing secrets while he was a shipboard communications officer, and after his retirement by recruiting his son, brother and a friend, Jerry A. Whitworth, a chief petty officer.

John Walker, 62, and his brother, Arthur, 65, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, will not be eligible for release for another 15 years. Whitworth, 60, is serving a life sentence.

AP-NY-02-16-00 1659EST




Recent News on Cambodia

Search for POW Remains at Kratie Cambodia

Date: 01/30/2000

The following is in from Jay Veith, which if true, only helps confirm our report that American POWs were held in Kratie as a result of the Cambodia incursion of 1970.

To date we haven't seen any evidence of American or ARVN ground ops that far north and west into Cambodia.

The question is: Is this evidence that U.S. bombing missions during the early '70's DID kill U.S. POWs inside Cambodia? Or possibly remains from B-52 lost in that area. If the latter, which ones?

As you know from this report, Maj. Mark Smith was one who was moved from the Fish Hook region during the '70 incursion to Kratie following the earlier movement of the COSVN hierarchy from Mimot, and NLF/PRG leadership from the Parrot's Beak area west of Tay Ninh to Kratie.

One must also seriously consider the following point:

Kratie, and many other areas throughout a vast area of Cambodia are sites of the "killing fields" by the murderous Khmer Rouge. If there are remains of U.S. personnel, were they killed by U.S. carpet bombings as the article below might suggest? Or were they killed by the Khmer Rouge or other former enemies and co-mingled with those from the killing fields? To date the no U.S. administration has pressed for a war crimes tribunal for former Khmer Rouge high-level officals. Why is that?


Perhaps Neil Sheehan's later book, After the War Was Over printed in 1992 sheds some light on why such war crimes trials have not been pushed for by the U.S. government. He states:

"By December 1978, the Vietnamese had suffered approximately 30,000 troops killed in two years of border fighting [with the Khmer Rouge], an equivalent number of civilians dead, tens of thousands of wounded, the destruction of thousands of homes and public buildings, and the wholesale abandonment of border farmlands. At the end of that month the Vietnamese Army invaded Cambodia and within two weeks chased Pol Pot [now deceased] and the remnants of his forces over to the Thai frontier. The Cambodian people, fearful and starving, momentarily forgot the centuries of enmity and welcomed the Vietnamese as their deliverers. The Vietnamese installed a client regime in Phnom Penh headed by Heng Samrin, Hun Sen, and other leaders of the anti-Pol Pot faction of the Cambodian Communist Party.

"The fighting, however, did not stop. At the urging of Washington and Beijing, Thailand protected Pol Pot and his followers in border sanctuaries while China and the United States connived at rebuilding the Khmer Rouge into a potent guerrilla force. [Webmaster's emphasis]. By the time Vietnam withdrew the last of its army almost ten years later at the end of September 1989, leaving behind military advisors and a small backup force to sustain the Phnom Penh regime, the Vietnamese had lost another 25,000 soldiers dead and 55,000 seriously wounded. In all, nearly as many Vietnamese soldiers died in the border clashes and subsequently in Cambodia itself as Americans did in the whole of the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese wondered rhetorically what the United States would have done if a government like Pol Pot's had come to power in Canada and launched assaults on Detroit and other cities along the American-Canadian border."

Roger "Bear" Young


Agence France-Presse
Friday, January 28, 2000

US MIA mission yields new bone finds in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Jan 28 (AFP) - A United States military team probing crash and burial sites in northern Cambodia has uncovered the possible remains of US soldiers killed in the early 1970's, an embassy spokesman said Friday.

The 40-member team -- led by US deputy assistant secretary of defence for POW/MIA affairs Robert Jones -- discovered the remains while on a visit to the northern province of Kratie, the scene of heavy US carpet bombing in the 1970's.

The fragments are set to be sent for DNA testing in Hawaii, the official said, adding the team was set to continue the search for missing servicemen along Cambodia's southern coastline.

A total of 74 US personnel are listed as missing in Cambodia, and 21 MIA missions have so far yielded just seven positive identifications. [End]






If you have read this far you are probably one of the few. In fact you most likely were involved in the Cambodia incursions looking for answers as I and a few other fellow Silver Spurs were when we started this research.

Along the way we got some help from others, both military and those involved in our intelligence agencies, and gleaned insight from our former enemies. We are grateful for their direction and contributions to history and the truth.

We learned that our former enemy feared U.S. involvement of ground and air support in the Vietnam war. They admit that they never intended to win a head-on military victory against the military might of the U.S. They have also admitted that their losses during the ‘68 Tet, the siege at Khe Sanh, the U.S. cross-border incursions into Cambodia and their later Easter Offensive cost them dearly in lives and material and were no military victory -- despite what the U.S. press reported or still is falsely reporting and passing off as “history” to the American people. To this day the press and history books report that the domino theory was a bunch of hog wash. Yet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos are communist countries where millions have perished. Burma is questionable and the political balance in the Philippines is still very much in doubt over the long haul and North Korea and China are rattling their nuclear sabers. It is far too soon to declare that the domino “theory” could not become domino “fact.” Americans tend to think short-term. Other countries and ideologies have long-term goals.

The leadership of the NLF/PRG and many of the leaders who made up COSVN realized that to win their “war of liberation” they had to win support for a complete U.S. withdrawal demanded by the American home front, and that their focus with the aid of their allies such as the Soviet Union, was in that arena, not on conventional battlefields. There aim was to isolate the South Vietnamese government. All the major battles mentioned in the paragraph above were considered military losses by our former enemy, but with the exception of the Easter Offensive the U.S. press declared the ‘68 Tet a military victory for our enemy, predicted the protracted siege on Khe Sanh would be America’s Dien Bien Phu (the final battle where French forces were defeated in 1954 by the Vietminh) and that the U.S. cross-border incursion into Cambodia in 1970 and the “secret bombings” were an escalation and expansion of the war and a dismal failure to find COSVN. The fact is that the ‘68 Tet including the occupation of Hue, was a dismal military failure to our former enemies. The fact is that Khe Sanh did not fall. The fact is that the NVA, NLF, PRG, elements of the Soviet Union and Cuba were already occupying vast regions of eastern and northern Cambodia PRIOR to the “secret” bombings or Nixon’s decision to send U.S. troops into Cambodia. The world had long known the war had expanded into Cambodia and Laos while that information was intentionally kept from the American public.

We suspected and found that repeatedly throughout the war, that major and highly-classified U.S. and ARVN military operations were repeatedly compromised. B-52 bombing targets and SOG insertion points were known. The objectives of major U.S. and ARVN ground missions were far too often known by our enemy well in advance which allowed the enemy to move American POWs, to simply vanish into the jungles, cities or villages, or to spring deadly ambushes. Our former enemy had agents in the villages, Vietnamese help on our bases, high-level informants in the Saigon government and their Soviet allies may have possibly been monitoring (as some have suggested) our UHF transmissions (thought to be secure) for B-52 targets.

However, some missions HAD to be compromised at very high levels of our own military and political channels or in what was thought to be very secure military message traffic. Such high-level leaks with repeated failures HAD to be known with time by our military commanders, high-level politicians and U.S. intelligence agencies. Such high-level leaks could and should have been used to our military advantage as in previous wars but we have found little, if any, evidence of that being the case. Instead, the conflict rolled along with mounting losses, unsuccessful U.S. POW rescue missions, expansion of the Phoenix Program, and enabled our former enemy to win their most important objective...

To drain the will of Americans to continue to sacrifice their young with no clear cut objective in a obscure region far from home...

In the end both the military and civilian leadership of this country must share the blame for the disastrous outcome of the Vietnam war, the fall of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to the communists which resulted in the loss of millions, and for the lives that were lost during the war and are still being lost due to PTSD, Agent Orange, Hepatitis-C and depression, not to mention the POW issue that is still not resolved. And certainly those agents of the mainstream press, Jane Fonda, Congress and others must recognize the role they played in aiding our former enemy to win the battle here on America’s home front and for continuing to deceive the American public with revisionist history to obscure the ugly clandestine truth -- while denying the veterans who fought honorably from the DMZ to the Delta, from the jungles and hills of Cambodia and Laos the dignity and peace they truly deserve for the sacrifices they have made...

An excellent read is: SOG / The Untold True Story of 'Mad Dog' Shriver courtesy of the "UltimateSniper.com" which features a article from: Maj. Plaster’s book, "SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam," published by Simon & Schuster which took place in April 1969.

An excerpt from the "Ultimate Sniper" site reads:

"...it’s that ambush-like reception despite a B-52 strike that opens the disturbing possibility of treachery and, it turns out, it was more than a mere possibility. One year after the [1969] COSVN raid, the NSA twice intercepted enemy messages warning of imminent SOG operations which could only have come from a mole or moles in SOG headquarters. It would only be long after the war that it became clear Hanoi’s Trinh Sat had penetrated SOG, inserting at least one high ranking South Vietnamese officer in SOG whose treachery killed untold Americans, including, most likely, the COSVN raiders...."-- Maj. Plaster

Of interest in the Maj. Plaster's book is references to Gen. Davison mentioned in our research who again played a significant role in the 1970 Cambodia incursion, and H. Kissinger who certainly played a major role in the Laos and Cambodia missions, the "peace with honor" peace talks, and the POW/MIA issue that continues to date. In fact in the February 2001 edition of Harper's magazine, Christopher Hitchens' article; "The Case Against Henry Kissinger - The Making of a War Criminal" indicates that Kissinger micro-managed the Cambodia operation personally. (3)

[Lt. Gen. Davison was former Chief of Staff of CINCPAC from 30 August 69 - 28 March 70. -- Source: USCINCPAC site, Nov 02 -- Senior US ARVN Military Advisor of III Corps --- Source: ARVN article.

Another very excellent read by former POW Frank Anton uncovers a great deal of information. On the back cover of his book, "Why Didn't You Get Me Out?" we read:

"...When he was finally freed in 1973, Anton returned to the United States bruised and battered. And the most devastating blow of all had yet to even be struck. Upon his release, Anton was debriefed by the government and saw both aerial photographs of the prison camps where he was held [in S. Vietnam] and a close-up picture of himself walking the grueling Ho Chi Minh Trail [in Laos]. The government had known all along where and when Anton and his fellow soldiers were being held - and made no attempt to rescue them..."

And from the section; "Amazing Capabilities"

".....Once I had been captured and taken into the jungle camps, someone had to know exactly where the prisoners were. Patterns of artillery fire were mathematically systematic. The batteries on the distant fire bases charted harassment and interdiction rounds - H&I - to explode in longitudinal and latitudinal patterns around their target areas. I could hear the H&I rounds 'walking' toward the camp, each round coming progressively closer until the next round should have landed right in the camp. Then there would be a momentary pause, and the 'walking' explosions would continue on the other side. With the exception of one errant round that landed just beyond the prisoners' compound in Camp Four [in South Vietnam], the artillery seemed aimed to deliberately miss the prisoners. Nor did any air strikes hit the camps, although the fighters and B-52s dumped high-explosive bombs all around us. Someone knew where we were..."

And most chilling, Anton later writes;


Flying Slick.Gif


"For three years I was held in four jungle camps [each in South Vietnam], each shrouded by the central highland forests that I thought were hiding me from the rest of the world. I felt swallowed up, lost, never sure exactly where I was. Yet I returned home to see the photographic evidence - each picture taken during the times that I was in each of the camps - that someone knew where I was."

Anton's book is a must read! It is available from St. Martin's paperbacks, ISBN: 0-312-97488-4 © 1997. For much more on Frank Anton, please see OJC's site at: http://www.ojc.org/anton/


In our search for the truth we have attempted to answer the question; Did the U.S. government knowingly kill American POWS in '70?

We have been unable to find evidence to support such, but I personally believe there was a possibility some were killed and may not have fared as well as the group Douglas Ramsey was in during the joint offensive into Cambodia. During the advance of American forces in the Fish Hook it could be possible some of our men became victims of "friendly fire" from bombs or artillery. Or you can view all of this from a different angle and conclude that Ramsey's group was very fortunate to have evaded death. Was it intentional? That remains to be documented, but I know U.S. forces who were flying the airstikes, those advancing on the ground or flying gunship and aero-scout support certainly would NOT have knowingly killed U.S. personnel. Perhaps documents in the future will provide us more specific information to pass such judgment, but as of this writing, the jury is still out on this subject.

My heartfelt personal thanks to Mike Benge, Doug Huffman, Ed Johnson, Dave Murray, DStormMom, Pete Peters, Bill Nevius, "Vietnam" magazine, Gary Lorentzen and others for helping two Silver Spurs - Dan Sutherland and I - in this research, and also a sincere "thank you" to those authors and publishers of the books used in our research. And finally to Steve Golding for his personal support throughout this project. Without their personal contributions, assistance and courage I would know little more today than I did thirty years ago.

I hope we have collectively touched on some of the truth, so that fellow Vietnam veterans and family members can find some of that peace we have all been looking for. Hopefully, someday, POW activists will find this research of interest in their quest for answers.

The 1970 Cambodia incursion and the 1972 "Christmas Bombings" were two operations during the war that made military sense and were ordered by President Nixon. However, both operations were again hampered and limited by those who put politics before sound military operations. It is also important to point out that the Joint Chiefs throughout the war played a significant role in the final tragic outcome which is well detailed in H.R. McMaster's 1997 book, "Dereliction of Duty". Not to mention McNamara, his "Whiz Kids" and Johnson's "Wise Men" as outlined in Wayne Thompson's "To Hanoi and Back". Between those two books alone you will learn of the ridiculous constraints put on our military forces in Southeast Asia. In my opinion I don't see how most of the top civilian leadership during the war found their way to the can without help, let alone conduct a war or bring us "peace with honor" !

But the seeds were sown early in the war, long before the 1970 Incursion, and the military importance of that sanctuary - and Laos - well known during the first major battle of U.S. airmobile forces against the NVA in a place called the Ia Drang Valley.

Then LTC (now Lt. Gen. Ret.) 'Hal' Moore who led the 1/7th into LZ X-Ray writes in his book, We Were Soldiers Once... And Young some important observations regarding Cambodia:

"Not long after this, [the battle of the Ia Drang Valley] orders came down to all the 1st Cavalry Division brigade and battalion commanders that we were never to speculate or suggest to any reporter that the North Vietnamese were using Cambodia as a sanctuary or that they were passing through Cambodia on their way to South Vietnam. This refusal to admit what we knew was true, and what even the newest reporter knew was true, struck all of us as dishonest and hypocritical.

"General Kinnard says that this was the point at which, under political direction, the American military surrendered the initiative to North Vietnam. What it said to Harry Kinnard was that this war would never end in an American victory. Initiative had been sacrificed to the polite diplomatic fiction that Cambodia was sovereign and neutral and in control of its territory. By the time another American President lifted the restrictions and the U.S. military crossed into Cambodia, Kinnard says, it was already too late." [End of quote]

And even more blunt later in his book:

"We knew for a fact that the three North Vietnamese regiments that we had fought in the Ia Drang had withdrawn into Cambodia. We wanted to follow them in hot pursuit, on the ground and in the air, but could not do so under the rules of engagement. Washington had just answered one very important question in the minds of Hanoi's leaders.

"General Kinnard [1st Cav Division Commander] says: 'I was always taught as an officer that in a pursuit situation you continue to pursue until you either kill the enemy or he surrenders. I saw the Ia Drang as a definite pursuit situation and I wanted to keep after them. Not to follow them into Cambodia violated every principle of warfare. I was supported in this by both the military and civilian leaders in Saigon. But the decision was made back there, at the White House, that we would not be permitted to pursue into Cambodia. It became perfectly clear to the North Vietnamese that they then had sanctuary; they could come when they were ready to fight and leave when they were ready to quit.'

"General Kinnard adds, 'When General Giap says he learned how to fight Americans and our helicopters at the Ia Drang, that's bullshit! What he learned was that we were not going to be allowed to chase him across a mythical line in the dirt. From that point forward, he was grinning. He can bring us to battle when he wants and where he wants, and where's that? Always within a few miles of the border, where his supply lines were the shortest, where the preponderance of forces is his, where he has scouted the terrain intensely and knows it better than we do.'

"William Bundy was then assistant secretary of state. Of that period and that decision, he says, 'I suppose from a strictly military point of view, going into Cambodia would have been a net plus. But there was a good deal more at stake. We were trying to preserve a facade of Cambodia [and Lao] neutrality.' " [End of quote]

Thus, in 1965 in what was the first major battle of the Vietnam war using the helicopter for air mobility to insert U.S. forces quickly into a enemy stronghold, our leadership - "to preserve a facade" - set the stage for a stalemate at best.....

In closing - in my opinion - the Vietnam war was a noble cause, fought by a vast majority of honorable men, led by less then courageous and honorable politicians and silent Joint Chiefs that was a prescription for failure....

Please also see the appendix for additional articles of interest we collected while conducting our research.


      Roger Young -- Vietnam veteran
      The Northwest Veterans Newsletter
        -- http://northwestvets.com


"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather place unto wrath:
for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay,' saith the Lord."

Romans 12:19 KJV




Recommended Additional Reading


3/17th Air Cavalry POW missions:

C - 3/17th Rescues POW - Apr '69


Other Units Personal Accounts:

-- NEW! CCS, MACVSOG "The Beginning" - Related external information of importance!

"Air Support Cambodian Invasion" recently posted by a FAC pilot who participated in the '70 Incursion.

The 1st Cavalry Division - Vietnam website.

Into Cambodia - Keith William Nolan, © 1990, Presidio Press, ISBN 0-89141-673-0.


Political/Military Policies:

Footnotes, Side Articles, Appendix, Bibliography

Dereliction of Duty - H.R. McMaster, © 1997, HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-092908-1.

I also highly recommend reading "The Secret War Against Hanoi" by Richard H. Shultz, Jr. (HarperCollins - © 1999) to learn more on the restrictions imposed on SOG by the White House, Lao Ambassador Sullivan, our State Dept., and how MACSOG's dangerous cross-border missions into Laos and Cambodia were restricted and compromised!

Below I offer hyperlinks to other sites of interest related to this issue. These sites raise serious allegations neither proven or disproven that require further investigation and which have not been investigated by myself.


    Roger Young
    The Northwest Veterans Newsletter
      -- http://northwestvets.com


Other external sites of interest:

Across the Border: Sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos - Courtesy of the U.S. Army Center of Military History

Bio on Lao CIA Station Chief Ted Shackley - [Note: Shackley has since passed away on 13 Dec 02.

The Son Tay Raid

ARVN site on Gen. Hieu. Includes information on ARVN Gen. Tri, ARVN 70 & 71 Cambodia incursions, Lt. Gen Davison, and links to A Troop, 3/17th Air Cav articles and awards.

Snoul Battle and its Consequences by Tran Van Thuong regarding the '71 Cambodia Incursion which A Troop, 3/17th Air Cav participated in.




Index of our Main Pages

Index Page 3/17 "Silver Spurs"
"Bear's" Unit -- Your gateway to the 3/17 Air Cav Squadron
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