NELSON, DAVID LINDFORD Crash Site Excavated (see text) I.D. not accepted 10/90 - names is STILL on USG remains returned list. Name: David Lindford Nelson Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: Company C, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Brigade Date of Birth: 10 November 1943 (Ft. Walters TX) Home City of Record: Kirkland WA Date of Loss: 05 March 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 163850N 1061544E (XD425405) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Refno: 1717 Other Personnel In Incident: Michael E. King; Ralph A. Moreira; Joel C. Hatley (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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: EXPLOD - N RAD C - N SEARCH - J SYNOPSIS: Lam Son 719 was a large-scale offensive against enemy communications lines which was conducted in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese would provide and command ground forces, while U.S. forces would furnish airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the U.S. from Vandegrift base camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, while U.S. Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones. On March 5, 1971, during one of these maneuvers, a UH1H helicopter (tail #67-17341) was in a flight of ten aircraft on a combat assault mission in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The crew of the aircraft consisted of WO Ralph A. Moreira Jr., pilot; Capt. David L. Nelson, aircraft commander; SP4 Michael E. King, door gunner; and SP4 Joel C. Hatley, crew chief. While on its final approach to Landing Zone Sophia, and at the time the pilot should have been making his final turn, Nelson radioed that the aircraft had been hit in the fuel cell and that the door gunner had been wounded in the head. He then said they would attempt to return to the fire support base on the same flight path as previously briefed. After the other aircraft had disembarked their troops and were on their way back to the fire support base, some of the other crewmen said they saw a chopper believed to be that commanded by Nelson burst into flames, crash and explode. As soon as the ball of flame was observed, attempts to make radio contact were made with no success. No formal air to ground search was attempted because of enemy anti-aircraft fire and ground activity in the area. All aboard the aircraft were declared Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. In 1988 a former officer in the Royal Lao Army, Somdee Phommachanh, stated on national television that he was held captive along with two Americans at a prison camp in northern Laos. The Americans had been brought to the camp at Houay Ling in 1978. One day Somdee found one of the prisoners dead in his cell. Somdee identified the American very positively from a photo. His name, he said, was David Nelson. Nelson was Somdee's friend and he would not forget him. Somdee buried his friend with all the care he would a cherished loved one, given his limited ability as a prisoner of war. Although Somdee has been threatened, he has stuck to his story. Nelson's family is grateful to know his fate, but outraged that David Nelson died over FIVE YEARS after American troops left Southeast Asia and the President of the United States had announced that "all American prisoners of war had been released." The U.S. Government did not inform the other families of this development. January 5-10, 1990, a joint US/Lao team excavated the site of the crash of the helicopter lost on March 5, 1971. Not one piece of aircraft material was recovered, although an unspecified number of teeth and a ring were found. No remains whatever were found that could be attributed to David Nelson, but on September 17, 1990, the Defense Department announced that all four men onboard the aircraft had been positively identified and that the remains would be buried in a "group" grave. When asked about the Somdee report, Ms. Shari Lawrence, a civilian working with U.S. Army Public Affairs Office said, "We are not concerned with that." The books on Nelson, Moreira, Hatley and King are now officially closed. The U.S. Government is no longer looking for them. Even though live sighting reports may come in relating to them, the reports will be discounted as untrue because the four men are "dead." The books are closed despite the fact that remains that could be forensically matched to David Nelson were not found at the site. Did David Nelson survive? What of the others? If David Nelson was abandoned by the country he served, how many more were also abandoned? Not a single American held by the Lao (and there were nearly 600 lost there) was ever released or negotiated for. If it were not for over 10,000 reports relating to the men missing in Southeast Asia, most Americans could forget. But as long as even one man could be still alive, unjustly held, we must do everything possible to bring him home.
FAMILIES OF MIAs HAVE NEW QUESTIONS By Nicole Welsensee States News Service Washington, Sept. 30, 1990 -- They are the forgotten ones. For years, these people have fought reams of bureaucratic red tape to find out what fate befell loved ones who fought in the Vietnam War and were declared Missing in Action (MIA) by the U.S. government...... --------------------------------- STATEMENT OF SENATOR JESSIE HELMS THE MOCK BURIAL OF MIAS MR. HELMS. MR. PRESIDENT, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE REMAINS OF FOUR UNITED STATES SERVICEMEN, MISSING IN ACTION IN LAOS SINCE MARCH 5, 1971, ARE TO BE INTERRED IN A MILITARY BURIAL TODAY AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY. THE NAMES OF THESE SERVICEMEN ARE: SPECIALIST 4 JOEL C. HATLEY, FROM ALBEMARLE, NORTH CAROLINA; CAPTAIN DAVID L. NELSON, FROM KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON; WARRANT OFFICER RALPH MOREIRA, FROM BEAVER FALLS, PENNSYLVANINA; AND SPECIALIST 4 MICHAEL E. KING, FROM CALHOUN, GEORGIA. ON SEPTEMBER 21, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE STATED IN PRESS QUIDANCE THAT "REMAINS RECOVERED DURING JANUARY 5-10, 1990 JOINT EXCAVATION EFFORTS BY THE U.S. AND LAO GOVERNMENTS HAVE RESULTED IN ACCOUNTING FOR THE [FOUR] SERVICEMEN...THE REMAINS OF THESE AMERICANS WILL DEPART HICKMAN AIR FORCE BASE IN HAWAII FOR A FULL MILITARY HONORS CEREMONY...AND WILL TRAVEL TO TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA, FOR THE FINAL JOURNEY HOME." MR. PRESIDENT, THE ORDINARY READER WHO READS SUCH STATEMENTS MIGHT WELL CONCLUDE THAT U.S. EXPERS HAVE MADE POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION OF THE REMAINS, AND THAT THE FAMILIES OF THE FOUR MEN WILL AT LAST BE COMFORTED BY THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY KNOW WHERE THE BODIES OF THEIR LOVED ONES LIE. UNFORTUNATELY, THAT IS NOT THE CASE. THERE ARE NO REMAINS WHATSOEVER FOR SPECIALIST 4 HATLEY OR FOR CAPTAIN NELSON. FOR WARRANT OFFICER MOREIRA AND SPECIALIST 4 KING, THERE ARE MINUSCULE FRAGMENTS OF BONE AND A TOOTH NOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFIABLE BY ANY OBJECTIVE FORENSIC ANALYSIS. YET FOUR COFFINS WILL BE BURIED WITH FULL MILITARY HONORS. MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE CONTACTED THE FAMILIES OF BOTH SPECIALIST HATLEY AND CAPTAIN NELSON. THEY WERE THRILLED WHEN THEY FIRST GOT THE NEWS THAT THEIR SONS HAD BEEN FOUND; BUT THEY WERE SHOCKED WHEN THEY WERE TOLD, UPON FURTHER ENQUIRY, THAT NO ACTUAL REMAINS WERE BEING RETURNED. WHY DOES THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PUT THE FAIMILIES OF MIA'S THROUGH THIS KIND OF CHARADE? THE ANSWER, MR. PRESIDENT, LIES IN A HIGHLY CONVOLUTED SYSTEM OF INVESTIGATION AND ANALYSIS THAT DEPENDS MORE UPON PROCEDURE AND METHODOLOGY THAN UPON PRACTICAL RESULT. FOR EXAMPLE, IN ANNOUNCING THE MOCK-BURIALS AT ARLINGTON CEMETARY RELATED TO THE FOUR MEN, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PROUDLY TALKED ABOUT "REMAINS," AND CASES "ACCOUNTED FOR." IN A Q & A STATEMENT, DOD SAYS: HOW MANY REMAINS RECOVERED FROM SOUTHEAS ASIAN COUNTRIES HAVE THUS FAR RESULTED IN THE ACCOUNTING FOR MISSING AMERICANS? INCLUDING THESE INDIVIDUALS, 287 AMERICANS (245 FROM VIETNAM, 40 FROM LAOS, AND 2 FROM PRC) PREVIOUSLY MISSING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA HAVE BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR. HOW MANY AMERICANS ARE STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR IN INDOCHINA? WITH THIS DERERMINATION, THERE ARE STILL 2.298 AMERICANS (1,677 IN VIETNAM, 530 IN LAOS, 83 IN CAMBODIA, AND 6 IN PRC COSTAL WATERS) MISSING IN INDOCHINA." CLEARLY, THE IMPLICATION IN THESE STATEMENTS IS THAT PHYSICALLY REMAINS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED AND RESTORED TO THE FAMILIES OF THE MISSING SERVICEMEN. YET THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BUREAUCRATIC SYSTEM MEANS. DOD HAS ITS OWN LANGUAGE, ITS OWN DEFINITIONS OF ORDINARY WORDS, ITS OWN PURPOSES TO BE SERVED. WHEN DOD SAYS "ACCOUNTED FOR," IT MEANS THAT DOD HAS GONE THROUGH A STEROTYPED PROCESS THAT ALLOWS IT TO CLOSE THE FILES ON A CASE. IT MEANS FIRST OF ALL THAT ALL REPORTS OF SIGHTINGS OF SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS BY EYE-WITNESSES--SO-CALLED "LIVE SIGHTING REPORTS" --HAVE BEEN CHECKED OUT, AND EITHER DISMISSED OR INVESTIGATED. OF COURSE IT IS EASIER TO DISMISS REPORTS BY DISCREDITING THE WITNESSES, OR BY INSISTING THAT THE REPORTS MEET BUREAUCRATIC CRITERIA THAN IT IS TO CHECK THEM OUT. SINCE THE FALL OF SAIGON IN 1975 UP TO SEPTEMBER 1, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SAYS IT HAS RECEIVED 12,184 LIVE SIGHTING REPORTS. DOD STATES THAT IT HAS REJECTED 68% OF THESE REPORTS BY "CORRELA- TION" WITH AMERICANS WHO WERE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA DURING THE PERIOD. BUT THE CRITERIA FOR CORRELATION ARE THEMSELVES SUSPECT, FREQUENTLY BUREAUCRATICALLY RIGID, AND SOMETIMES ABSURD. I WILL EXPLAIN THIS IN A MOMENT WITH RESPECT TO THE FOUR MOCK-BURIALS TODAY. UNDOUBTEDLY, MANY REPORTS ARE MISTAKEN, MANY ARE DISTORTED, AND MANY ARE FABRICATED. BUT DOD SEEMS TO BE CLAIMING BY ITS OWN STATISTICS THAT OVER TWO-THIRDS OF THE REPORTS CAN BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED. SECONDLY, DOD'S USE OF THE TERM "REMAINS" DOES NOT MEET THE ORDINARY DEFINITION OF THE WORD. FOR DOD THE WORD "REMAINS REFERS NOT TO THE ACTUAL PHYSICAL REMAINS, BUT TO AN ABSTRACT CONCEPT DEDUCTED FROM CIRCUMSTANCES. IN THE CASE OF THE FOUR SERVICEMEN, AN EXCAVATION TEAM FOUND REMNANTS OF A HELICOPTER AT THE SITE WHERE IT PRESUMABLY CRASHED ON MARCH 5, 1971. IN THE INTERVENING 19 YEARS, MANY THINGS COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO THE BODIES OF THOSE KILLED IN THE CRASH. A FIRE COULD HAVE CONSUMED MOST OF BODIES, INCLUDING MOST OF THE BONES. THE PROCESS OF TROPICAL DECAY COULD OBLITERATE MOST TRACES. WILD ANIMALS COULD DRAG BODIES AWAY. THE DIFFICULTY OF FINDING ACTUAL REMAINS, AND IDENTIFYING THEM CORRECTLY, IS INDEED FORMIDABLE. THIS SENATOR DOES NOT WANT TO MINIMIZE THE DIFFICULTIES FACING DOD. IN PRACTICE, DOD WORKS BY A PROCESS OF DEDUCTION. RECORDS OF THE INCIDENT WOULD SHOW WHO WAS PILOT AND CO-PILOT AND CREW. ANY REMAINS FOUND IN THE APPROPRIATE PLACES IN THE WRECKED VEHICLE ARE THEN ARBITRARILY ASSIGNED TO THE CASE OF THE CREWMAN WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SITTING IN THAT PLACE. THAT IS REASONABLE ENOUGH. IN SOME CASES, TEETH AND DENTAL WORK CAN BE IDENTIFIED, BUT IN MANY CASES HUMAN FRAGMENTS ARE TOO SMALL TO BE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED. NEVERTHELESS, THE CASE IS STAMPED "RESOLVED," TENTATIVE THOUGH THE IDENTIFICATION MAY BE. MANY FAMILIES WOULD PREFER TO KNOW SIMPLY THAT THE VEHICLE HAD BEEN FOUND AT THE CRASH SITE, AND THAT UNIDENTIFIABLE REMAINS WERE RECOVERED INSIDE. THEY WOULD BE HAPPY TO JOIN IN A CEREMONY COMMEMORATING ANYONE WHO MAY HAVE DIED IN THE CRASH, BUT THEY ARE DISTURBED WHEN TOLD THAT "REMAINS" HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS THEIR LOVED ONE EVEN THOUGH NO POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION IS POSSIBLE. HOWEVER, DOD GOES EVEN FURTHER. WHEN NO ACTUAL HUMAN REMAINS ARE FOUND IN THE CRASH, OR NOT ENOUGH REMAINS ARE FOUND TO ACCOUNT FOR EACH OF THE CREWMAN, THE DOD DECLARES THAT THE WHOLE CREW HAS BEEN "ACCOUNTED FOR." THUS EMPTY CASKETS ARE RETURNED AS SYMBOLIC "REMAINS." THAT IS WHY NO ACTUAL REMAINS ARE BEING BURIED TODAY FOR TWO OF THE MISSING AIRMEN. THE PROBLEM WITH THIS METHOD, ALTHOUGH BUREAUCRATICALLY CONVENIENT FOR CLOSING CASES, IS THAT IT IS DISHONEST. THE MISSING SERVICEMEN MAY WELL HAVE ESCAPED BY JUMPING IN THE LAST MOMENTS OF THE CRASH--SOMETHING NOT IMPOSSIBLE IN A HELICOPTER THAT FALLS IN A CERTAIN WAY. IF THAT IS THE CASE, THE MAN MAY HAVE SURVIVED AND DISAPPEARED AS A PRISONER OF WAR. THIS POSSIBILITY IS VERY INCONVENIENT FOR CLOSING CASES, PARTICULARLY IF THERE ARE LIVE-SIGHTING REPORTS OF THE MISSING AIRMAN. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CASE OF CAPTAIN NELSON. IN 1986, A LAOTIAN EYEWITNESS, A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL LAOTIAN ARMY, REPORTED THAT HE HAD BEEN IMPRISONED IN 1978 WITH CAPTAIN NELSON AND ANOTHER WESTERNER, THAT HE HAD NURSED CAPTAIN NELSON, WHO WAS BADLY BURNED, AS BEST HE COULD IN THE PRISON CAMP, AND BURIED HIM IN THE CAMP WHEN HE DIED. HE PROVIDED SPECIFIC LOCATIONS, GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES, A HAND-DRAWN MAP OF THE CAMP, AND THE SITE OF THE GRAVE IN THE CAMP. PRESS REPORTS HAVE STATED THAT, INSTEAD OF TREATING THE LAOTIAN EYE-WITNESS'S INFORMATION SERIOUSLY, DOD SOUGHT TO DISCREDIT HIM. DOD ADMINISTERED "LIE-DETECTOR" TESTS ON HIM, AND CLAIMED THAT HE WAS LYING, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD NO DISCERNIBLE MOTIVATION TO LIE, AND THE INFORMATION ON HIS MAP CHECKED OUT WITH OTHER SOURCES. INDEED, SOME REPORTS SAY THAT HE WAS THREATENED WITH DEPORTATION FROM THE UNITED STATES, WHERE HE NOW LIVES, IF HE DID NOT RETRACT HIS STORY. I HOPE THAT THESE REPORTS ARE INACCURATE, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE CONDUCT OF INTERROGATION TEAM WAS QUESTIONABLE AND NO NATIVE LANGUAGE STATEMENT WAS TAKEN FROM A WITNESS NOT THOROUGHLY FAMILIAR WITH ENGLISH. IN MY OPINION, HIS TESTIMONY SHOULD BE RE-EXAMINED BY COMPETENT EXPERTS. NEVERTHELESS, THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF A "LIVE-SIGHTING REPORT" THAT WAS "RESOLVED" THROUGH "CORRELATION." MEANWHILE, DOD INSISTS THAT THE EMPTY CASKET THAT WILL BE BURIED IN ARLINGTON IS THE TRUE "REMAINS" OF CAPTAIN NELSON. MR. PRESIDENT, THE QUESTION REMAINS AS TO WHY SUCH EFFORTS ARE MADE TO "RESOLVE" CASES INSTEAD OF VIGOROUSLY PROSECUTING ANY REASONABLE LEADS ON MIAs. I CANNOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION YET, BUT I AM VERY DISTURBED BY A FURTHER STATEMENT THAT APPEARS IN THE DOD GUIDANCE ON THESE CASES. DOD STATES: "THE SERIOUS COOPERATION OF THE LAO GOVERNMENT WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN ACHIEVING PRODUCTIVE RESULTS FROM THIS JOINT OPERATION AND IS DEEPLY APPRECIATED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. THE MOST IMPORTANT MEASURE BY WHICH TO JUDGE THE SUCCESS OF AGREEMENTS REACHED BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND VIENTIANE TO BROADER COOPERATION ON THE POW/MIA ISSUE IS OBTAINING FINAL ANSWERS FOR THE FAMILIES OF AMERICANS MISSING IN ACTION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA." MR. PRESIDENT, AS I HAVE JUST POINTED OUT IN DETAIL, DOD HAS NOT OBTAINED FINAL ANSWERS FOR THE FAMILIES, NOR CAN THE RESULTS BE DESCRIBED AS TRULY PRODUCTIVE, WHEN NOTHING IS PRODUCED. BUT THIS FAWNING APPRECIATION LAVISHED UPON A GOVERNMENT THAT MAY WELL BE CONCEALING THE FATE OF MANY OTHER MIAs SUGGESTS THAT POLITICS HAS BEEN PLACED BEFORE FAMILIES. MR. PRESIDENT, WITH THE ABLE ASSISTANCE OF THE DISTINGUISHED SENIOR SENATOR FROM IOWA, MR. GRASSLEY, I HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE QUESTION OF MIA/POWs VERY CLOSELY. RECENTLY , DOD GRANTED ACCESS TO THE 12,000 FILES ON OPEN CASES TO ME AND MR. GRASSLEY--AN ACCESS I AM SORRY TO SAY WHICH WAS GRANTED RELUCTANTLY AND AFTER MANY WEEKS. MR. GRASSLEY AND EXPERT ANALYSTS ON MY STAFF HAVE PERSONALLY SPENT MORE THAT 110 MAN-HOURS REVIEWING HUNDREDS OF THESE DOCUMENTS. THESE FILES ARE CLASSIFIED, AND IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO DISCUSS THEM AT THIS TIME. OF COURSE, THESE FOUR CASES I HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING HERE TODAY ARE BASED UPON OPEN SOURCES AND UNCLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS. HOWEVER, I CAN SAY THAT WE HAVE FOUND A NUMBER OF PROBLEMS SIMILAR TO THOSE CASES WHICH I HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING TODAY. ALTHOUGH CERTAIN ELEMENTS IN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WERE BITTERLY OPPOSED TO AN INDEPENDANT EXAMINATION OF THE CASES BY QUALIFIED INDEPENDENT EXPERTS, I DEEPLY APPRECIATE THE EFFORTS OF TOP-LEVEL OFFICIALS TO MAKE THE DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE TO ELECTED REPRESENTA- TIVES OF THE PEOPLE FOR PROPER OVERSIGHT PURPOSES. IN THE WEEKS TO COME, I HOPE THAT EVEN GREATER ACCESS WILL BE GRANTED TO MAKE EVALUATION OF THE CASES GO MORE SMOOTHLY. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THEY ARE CONVINCED THAT THE QUESTIONS RELATING TO MIA/POWs HAVE SATISFACTORILY CLEARED UP. MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE UNCLASSIFIED DOD CABLE RELATING TO THE CASES OF THE FOUR SERVICEMEN BE PRINTED IN THE RECORD AT THE CONCLUSION OF MY REMARKS. -------------------------- [somdee.txt] PENTAGON BURIES ANY BODIES; On October 5, the Department of Defense buried in a communal grave at Arlington National Cemetery the supposed remains of four U.S.Army helicopter crewmen, who allegedly died when their UH-1H helicopter was shot down over southern Laos on March 5, 1971. The Pentagon has identified the remains as those of the pilot, Capt. David L.Nelson, of Kirkland, Washington, and crewman Michael Eli King of Calhoun, Georgia; Ralph Angelo Moreira Jr. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and John Clinton Hatley of Albemarle, North Carolina. The problem with the Pentagon's supposed certain identification of remains, however, is that the pilot was seen alive hundreds of miles away in a prison camp in northern Laos SEVEN YEARS LATER. The burial of the four Army airmen is the latest of the Pentagon's interments of American servicement supposedly accounted for after being missing in action in Southeast Asia from the Vietnem War, which ended in 1975. Critics of the communal burials argue that the Pentagon is in a hurry to dispose of as many unaccounted-for-missing-in-action cases as possible, in order to pave the way for normalization of relations with Vietnam, neighboring Laos, and Cambodia. One businessman who has made numerous trips to Vietnam to push various business ventures told The Spotlight that he anticipates a normalization of relations in five or six months. He hopes to have U.S. government approval soon for the opening of Vietnam for American tourists. FOUND SINGLE TOOTH ,SAYS THEY'RE DEAD GIS: Informed sources have told The Spotlight that the alleged "identifiable remains" located at the supposed crash site consisted of a single tooth and a shiny ring, which had gone through an in-air explosion of the aircraft and resulting intense fire. These remnants had been in the ground for nearly 20 yrs. The sources told the Spotlight that an Army team of experts in searching aircraft crash sites located the "remains" last January, after the site had previously been examined by a communist Laotian team, which supposedly located the site. The sources said that there was nothing left of the helicopter itself at the site, since Laotians in the area had removed all of the metal and other debris, which they sell for scrap. How they then could locate the exact crash site in the dense jungle area is unknown. When queried about the identification being made with such an-apparent lack of identifiable remains, the Pentagon stated that is has eyewitness reports of the helicopter exploding in such a manner that no one could have survived. IDENTIFICATION IRRELEVANT Therefore, the Pentagon proceeded with the identification and the burial at Arlington. A number of unidentifiable bone shards were also found and are buried in the communal grave. The Spotlight has been told that the U.S. government PAYS the LAOTIANS $1 MILLION for each crash site that it examines and leaves behind the heavy excavation gear after it leaves the site. Critics of the Pentagon's identification process point out that there were uip to 10 or 12 South Vietnamese soldiers aboard the helicopter when it crashed. The bone fragments, Vietnamese and/or American, are buried in the communal grave at Arlington. There is no mention made of the Vietnamese who died and whose remains are co-mingled with the American remains. The Pentagon is totally avoiding an eyewitness who swears that he had encountered the helicopter pilot, Nelson, in a communist prison camp in Northern Laos in 1978, five years after all American POWs were supposed to have been released. WITH TWO AMERICANS: In 1988, a former officer of the Royal Laotian Army, Somdee Phommachanh, reported in a television news broadcast that he was held captive with Nelson and another American pilot in 1978. Somdee said the pilots were brought to the camp that year. The former Laotian officer, who escaped from the prison in 1984 and eventually made his way to the United States, said that Nelson was in poor health and died at the camp, which he pinpointed as being in Houay Ling in northern Laos, hundreds of miles from the crash site. This was also seven years after the American pilot supposedly had been killed in the crash in southern Laos. Somdee was shown a group of 22 photographs, each of a different individual and each cropped to the same size. From the group, he positively identified Nelson, whom he claimed to have himself buried at the site of the prison. The other American POW, whom he identified as Navy Lt. Stanley K. Smiley, a pilot, was taken from the camp shortly after Nelson's death, and Somdee never saw him again. He is still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Somdee, who now works as a janitor in a rural school in the United States, appeared at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which investigates reported sightings of American POWs in Southeast Asia, to present testimony under oath about the two Americans. The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY), REFUSED to let him testify, sources told The Spotlight. The sources also said that after Somdee had told his story to television newsmen, he was "paid a visit by agents of the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] who took him to a hotel room, which he was told he could not leave until he signed a statement recanting his story." He was held there, they said, 46 hours. He was also told that "all [his] relatives in Laos would be killed" [presumably by communists] if his story was told. He did not recant, although the DIA claims that he did.