COBEIL, EARL GLENN

REMAINS RETURNED 03/04/74

Name: Earl Glenn Cobeil
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force
Unit: 333rd TFS
Date of Birth: 29 August 1934
Home City of Record: Pontiac MI
Date of Loss: 05 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213000N 1051400E
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F

Other Personnel in Incident:  Richard A. Dutton, Returnee

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 09 March 1997 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews, "And Brave Men, Too," by
Timothy Lowry.

REMARKS: Egress; NVN did not release due to maltreatment/torture/mental
state. CACCF reports Died in Captivity.

SYNOPSIS:
Leo Thorsness was already in captivity when a Cuban team came and stayed for
a year. They taught the North Vietnamese how to extract information.

George Day had one of the first interrogators who spoke English. Day could
barely understand him - but the brutality from him was loud and clear. The
arm that had partly healed after ejection in 1967, was broken again.

"They had hung me up from the ceiling and paralyzed this [left] hand for
about a year and a half. I could barely move my right hand. My wrist curled
up and my fingers were curling. I could just barely move my [right] thumb
and forefinger."

"In some of the torture sessions, they were trying to make you surrender.
The name of the game was to take as much brutality as you could until you
got to the point that you could hardly control yourself and then surrender.
The next day they'd start all over again."

"I knew what he was - he was obviously Cuban and had either been raised at
or near the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo. He knew every piece of American
slang and every bit of American vulgarity, and he knew how to use them
perfectly. He knew Americans and understood Americans. He was the only one
in Hanoi who did.

Thorsness was not among the eight tortured by the Cubans as Day was, but
they systematically tortured another in the camp to death, Thorsness says.

In November 1967, 90 miles north of Bangkok, Captain Glen Cobeil and Major
Dick Dutton briefed for their mission. They were to be the spare F-105
aircraft in the event a plane would have to abort. There would be four
aircraft that would preceed the fighter-bombers. The Wild Weasel aircraft's
job was to seek out the guided missile sites, knock them out before they
could launch the "flying telephone poles" (name given to enemy missiles).
The F-4 Phantoms provided MIG cover for the Weasels and the strike aircraft.
As they made a wide sweeping turn, after releasing one of the bombs, the
missile radar started working on them. A 37mm hit their tail and they were
on fire. They were seven minutes from the Red River. They tried to nurse the
stricken plane, but the time came when they knew they had to eject. They
figured if they could hide until dark perhaps they could get across the Red
River - that being friendly territory. However, they landed right in the
middle of a populated area.

Quickly the peasants disrobed Dutton with no thought of unfastening buttons
or zippers. They even cut his boots. With elbows tied behind his back, a
loose blindfold over his eyes and a noose over his head, he was led
barefooted down a rocky path. The civilians hit him with bamboo poles,
rocks, dirt clods and fists. He had a gaping wound and one peasant woman
stuffed it with a piece of cotton that had a mercurochrome like antiseptic
on it. Loaded into a small truck, they bounced along and finally arrived at
an empty church. Shortly thereafter Communist soldiers put unconscious Glen
Cobeil in one truck and Dutton in another. They were taken to a Russian
built helicopter and placed in the cargo section. Dutton's ankles were tied
to a floor hook. As they flew along Dutton's blindfold was pulled up around
his forehead and he saw an Oriental sitting on a packing crate holding a
raised jack handle. Dutton thought he was going to smash his brains in. The
Oriental shoved Dutton's head around to look at Glen. There was no wound on
him. They finally arrived at the Hanoi Hilton. Cobeil was still alive.
Dutton never saw him again but only heard him. Both were tortured
continuously and on the fifth day Dutton heard Glen scream his name and then
he heard the sounds of them beating and clubbing Cobeil.

When George Day arrived at the Zoo on April 30, 1968, and met his
interrogators, one of the Cubans had already pounded Earl Cobiel out of his
senses. Interrogators, returnees said, had taken a rusty nail and carved a
bloody X across his back.

Day recalls, "a young gook, whose name escapes me, and two other beaters
beat him all night. They brought him out after a fourteen or fifteen-hour
session, and he obviously didn't have a clue as to what was going on. He was
totally bewildered and he never came unbewildered.

"The gooks kept thinking he was putting on, so they would keep torturing
him. The crowning blow came when one of the guards some people called Goose
struck him across the face with a fan belt under his eye, and the eyeball
popped out. The guy never flinched, and that was the first time the gooks
finally got the picture that maybe they'd scrambled his brains."

"It sounds so savage you have trouble picturing it."

Government records from 1979 still listed Cobeil as a prisoner of war.
Records from later years finally indicate that Earl Glen Cobeil died in
captivity. His remains were not returned home until 1974, even though the
North Vietnamese had full knowledge of events that had taken place and
Cobeil's death at the hands of the interrogator much earlier in the war.
North Vietnam has yet to release the names of the Cubans involved in the
torture and murder of American Servicemen.


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