ISHII, TOMOHARA Name: Tomohara Ishii Rank/Branch: Civilian Unit: CBS News Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Japan Date of Loss: 31 May 1970 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 110519N 1044119E (VT660257) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Auto Refno: 1626 Other Personnel In Incident: Welles Hangen (American); Roger Colne (French); Kojiro Sakai; Yoshihiko Waku; (all Japanese correspondents); 2 other foreign correspondents (remains recovered) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Welles Hangen, an NBC News correspondent, Roger Colne, a sound technician for NBC, Kojiro Sakai, a sound technician for CBS, Yoshihiko Waku, a cameraman for NBC, and Tomohara Ishii, a cameraman for CBS, and three other foreign correspondents comprised a group of NBC, CBS and foreign newsmen when the group was ambushed about 32 miles south of Phnom Penh near Angtassom, in Kampot Province, Cambodia, on May 31, 1970. The newsmen were heading for the front lines of fighting in Cambodia, looking for a story as military action in Cambodia had stepped up considerably at this time. One of the automobiles was hit by a B-40 rocket, killing all three occupants. This group was reported to contain a CBS crew, including one individual named Syvertsen. The group's Cambodian driver, who escaped capture, said that Hangen and two foreign journalists riding in the same car were taken alive to a house about three miles from the site of the attack. Other reports describe the three and "Hangen and his crew," which presumably include Hangen, Colne, and Waku, all NBC employees. CIA located a Cambodian peasant in early 1971 who had been held overnight with and could identify photos of Colne, Hangen, Sakai, Ishii and Waku. The peasant stated that they had been held 3 miles from capture then moved the next morning to a pagoda called Wat Po. The Cambodian knew personal details about each of the five journalists. Information obtained by a Khmer Rouge rallier, and substantiated by reports from villagers, indicated that Hangen and three others were held in the house for three days before being taken out and executed. The bodies of two newsmen were recovered from a gravesite near the ambush location, but Hangen, Colne, Ishii, Sakai and Waku are still missing and were listed as Prisoners of War. Author Zalin Grant interviewed returned ARVN POWs in early 1973 and released the following data supporting other stories indicating journalists could still be alive. "Returned ARVN POWs sighted the (unnamed) journalists on Route #7, 17 miles south of Snoul in Eastern Cambodia 7-72 in ox-carts pulled by Hondas; another said a VC captain near Minot, eastern Cambodia (where military American POWs were released from in 1973) reported the (unnamed) journalists held in 7-72 had cameras; Cambodian national saw (unnamed) journalists in 6-72 at Prince Sihanouk's FUNK camp south of Route #13 in Kratie Province; returned ARVN POWs said a guard told them in 3073 that the journalists were still alive and held in their area." Walter Cronkite reported a sighting of (unnamed) journalists in January, 1974. Whether Grant's and Cronkite's information relates to the journalists missing from May 31, 1970, is not known. The five are among 22 international journalists still missing in Southeast Asia, most known to have been captured. For several years during the war, the correspondents community rallied and publicized the fates of fellow journalists. After a while, they tired of the effort, and today these men are forgotten by all but families and friends. Tragically, nearly the whole world turns its head while thousands of reports continue to flow in that prisoners are still held in Southeast Asia. Cambodia offered to return a substantial number of remains of men it says are Americans missing in Cambodia (in fact the number offered exceeded the number of those officially missing). But the U.S. has no formal diplomatic relations with the communist government of Cambodia, and refused to directly respond to this offer. Although several U.S. Congressmen offered to travel to Cambodia to receive the remains, they have not been permitted to do so by the U.S. By 1991, well over 10,000 reports regarding missing Americans have been received which convince many experts that hundreds of Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Whether the newsmen ambushed in Cambodia on May 31, 1970 are among them is unknown. Whatever their identities or nationality, they deserve the basic human right of freedom.