PRIMM, SEVERO JAMES III GROUP BURIAL 12/95 - On USG remains returned list Name: Severo James Primm III Rank/Branch: O1/US Air Force Unit: 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand Date of Birth: 03 November 1947 Home City of Record: New Orleans LA Date of Loss: 05 February 1973 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 153755N 1065957E (YC143291) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action/Killed In Action Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: EC47Q Other Personnel in Incident: Arthur R. Bollinger; Dale Brandenburg; Todd M. Melton; George R. Spitz; Peter R. Cressman; Joseph Matejov (all missing); Robert E. Bernhardt (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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: KIA 3 - POSS CAPT 4 SYNOPSIS: On February 5, 1973, about a week after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement, an EC47Q aircraft was shot down over Saravane Province, Laos, about 50 miles east of the city of Saravane. The crew of the aircraft consisted of the pilot, Capt. George R. Spitz; co-pilot, 2Lt. Severo J. Primm III, Capt. Arthur R. Bollinger, 1Lt. Robert E. Bernhardt, Sgt. Dale Brandenburg, Sgt. Joseph A. Matejov, all listed as crew members, and Sgt. Peter R. Cressman and SSgt. Todd M. Melton, both systems operators. The families of all aboard the aircraft were told the men were dead, and advised to conduct memorial services. It is known that Cressman and Matejov were members of Detachment 3, 6994th Security Squadron from Ubon, Thailand. The aircraft, however, was flying out of the 361st TEW Squadron (Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron) at Nakhon Phanom Airbase, Thailand. Primm, Melton, Spitz, Brandenburg and Bernhardt were assigned to the 361st TEW Squadron. Bollinger's unit is unknown. The men in the 6994th were highly trained and operated in the greatest of secrecy. They were not allowed to mingle with others from their respective bases, nor were the pilots of the aircraft carrying them on their missions always told what their objective was. They were cryptology experts, language experts, and knew well how to operate some of the Air Force's most sophisticated equipment. They were the first to hear the enemy's battle plans. Over five years later, Joe Matejov's mother, Mary Matejov, heard columnist Jack Anderson, on "Good Morning America", describe a Pathet Lao radio communique which described the capture of four "air pirates" on the same day as the EC47Q carrying her son was shot down. NO OTHER PLANE WAS MISSING THAT DAY. Anderson's information indicated that reconnaissance personnel had 40 uninterrupted minutes in which to survey the crash site. The report of the reconnaissance team, which was not provided to the families for over five years, showed that three bodies, which were thought to have been higher ranking officers because of the seating arrangement, were found strapped in seats. Four of the men aboard the aircraft were not in or around the aircraft, and the partial remains of the eighth man (Bernhardt) was recovered. No identification was brought out from the crash site, and no attempt was made to recover the three bodies from the downed aircraft. It is assumed that the reconnaissance team was most interested in recovering the sensitive equipment aboard the EC47Q. The EC47Q became known as the "Flying Pueblo". Most of the "kids" in back, as some pilots called them, were young, in good health, and stood every chance of surviving captivity. There were specific reports intercepted regarding the four missing men from the aircraft missing on February 5, 1973. Radio reports indicated that the four were transported to the North Vietnam border. None were released in the general POW release beginning the next month. Peter Cressman enlisted in the United States Air Force in August, 1969 and after two years at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska he volunteered for service in Vietnam and left for Da Nang in June 1972. In Da Nang, Peter spent his free hours at Sacred Heart Orphanage. His letters to his hometown priest in Oakland, New Jersey, resulted in the forming of "Operation Forget-Me-Not". Community schools, churches, merchants and citizens joined the effort to help the innocent victims of war. The group eventually provided a boxcar of supplies to the orphans. Peter was transferred to the airbase at Ubon, Thailand. He believed the secret missions being flown into Laos were illegal, and had written letters to his congressman in that regard. His family has been active in efforts to locate information on Peter and the nearly 2500 others who remain unaccounted for. They founded the National Forget-Me-Not Association for POW/MIAs in St.Petersburg, Florida, the largest POW advocacy group in the country. Joseph Matejov enlisted in the Air Force in 1970 from his home state of New York and went to Southeast Asia in April, 1972. Joe's father and two brothers were career military. His sister graduated from West Point in 1981. Steven Matejov died in 1984 not knowing what happened to his son. Joe's mother, Mary says, "Joe may be alive. If so, this government has a legal and moral responsibility to get him home. The next generation of servicemen should not have to wonder if they will answer the call to defend their country only to be abandoned. We must stop this tragedy now, and never allow it to happen again." Thousands of reports received by the U.S. Government have convinced many experts that hundreds of Americans remain captive in Southeast Asia. Members of a crew flying a secret mission after a peace agreement had been signed would likely be considered war criminals. If they are among those thought to be alive, the survivors of the EC47Q have been held captive over 15 years. It's time we brought our men home. ---------------------------------------------- [ssrep7.txt 02/09/93] SMITH 324 COMPELLING CASES Laos Arthur D. Bollinger Dale Brandenburg Peter R. Cressman Joseph A. Matejov Todd M. Melton Severo J. Primm, III George R. Spitz (1983) On February 5, 1973, an EC-47Q disappeared over Saravan Province while on an electronic intelligence mission. An airborne search effort later located the wreckage of the aircraft. A ground search team located three or four charred bodies and was able to recover one of them, the remains of Robert E. Bernhardt. In providing his own analytical comments concerning the meaning of a Vietnam People's Army radio message intercepted shortly after the loss of the EC-47Q, Baron 52, an U.S. Air Force communications analyst concluded the substance of the message indicated that several of the Baron 52 had been captured alive and were being moved to North Vietnam. However, based on the condition of the crash site and the evidence found there, the commander of the unit concluded that those on the aircraft had all perished. In February 1973 the crew was declared killed in action, body not recovered based on a presumptive finding of death. In June 1989, a private U.S. POW/MIA hunter in Thailand reported information from a self declared Lao resistance leader that six of the Baron 52 crew were alive and he believed they were being held in Saravan Province. In June 1990, a DIA field element in Thailand, the Stony Beach Team, received information from a source asserting that five of the crew were alive and living with ethnic Lao Theung in Laos (Bollinger, Brandenburg, Spitz, Primm, Cressman.) A Lao resistance group asserted it would take action. DIA concluded this was a similar to the earlier and fabricated report. In the fall of 1992, the Senate Select Committee received sworn testimony from DIA's senior POW/MIA analyst, Robert DeStatte. Mr. DeStatte provided detailed information on what was known about the disappearance of Baron 52 and the intercepted North Vietnamese communications, noting that the report that so excited the U.S. Air Force analyst actually related to the movement of four airmen to the area of the port city of Vinh in the panhandle of North Vietnam and hundreds of kilometers from the site of Baron 52's disappearance. With such a message received only minutes after the loss of Baron 52 in South Laos, DIA concluded the report correlated to airmen other than those in Baron 52. In October 1992 the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs forwarded his strong recommendation to the Lao Government that the planned crash site investigation of Baron 52 take place as scheduled. On November 2, 1992, a joint U.S./Lao team traveled to Sekong Province and to the crash site of Baron 52. The team found the wreckage still there. Two witnesses were interviewed who described the crash of the aircraft and the resultant fire. One witness described visiting the site the next morning and finding a burned corpse which was recovered by SAR aircraft. Three North Vietnamese advisors arrived several days later to inspect the site. The joint team recovered one of Joseph A. Matejov's dog tags from the site as well as personal and military artifacts, including pieces of two flight suits. The team's recovery of unopened parachute canopy releases indicated some of the missing crewmen were undoubtedly still on board the aircraft at the time of impact. -------------------------------------- [TAM0122.TXT 03/02/92] SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON POW/MIA AFFAIRS HEARING ON 22 JANUARY 1992 OPENING STATEMENT OF TERRELL ALAN MINARCIN APPENDIX E One of the most discussed incidents to come out of Southeast Asia, especially since it happened after the cease fire, was the BARON 52 incident. While I will not rehash all the details that have already been reported in various forms, I will just state the following information which some conjectures. When the GUARD monitor came into the analysis shop (where I worked) to report that BARON 52 just went down, we asked how many were on board. We were immediately informed that there were ten individuals aboard, not the eight on the manifest. When queried again about the total, the answer remained the same. I believe we were told that the extra two were "dead- heading" back to Ubon. However, due to the mission of the aircraft and the special tasking, the other two might have been Vietnamese linguists. My section immediately began searching through the traffic for any communications that might reflect information on the shoot down. As our aircraft were flying too far north, it was not surprising that we had no immediate communications reporting on that incident. The aircraft we had up were diverted further south in order to try to pick up after action reports. The only report that we came across was a request we saw two days later for more SA-7s. Another report we saw came on February 17, 1973. I am the analyst who issued this report. The unit that we had intercepted was requesting transportation for three "giac lai my", the Vietnamese phrase for any American captured in flight suits. It means bandit American pilot. Couple this with the four who had been captured on February 5, and you have seven crew members who had been captured. It is my opinion that BARON 52 was downed by at least one and probably two SA-7 missiles. The SA-7 would hit the heat source. In this case it would be the engines. The detonation pattern would also, in all probability, have severed the radio transmission lines thus rendering the plane mute. It also would have allowed most, if not all, the crew to bailout. I further believe that the aircraft was hit while it was heading south and that the first "stick" of four crew members bailed out almost at once. The remainder of the crew would be tasked with trying to destroy the equipment. They did not completely do so. The second "stick" of crew members went out around the immediate area where BARON 52 went in. I believe the make up of the first stick would be Bollinger, Matejov, and the two extras. I believe that Berhardt was killed by shrapnel of the SA-7. The rest of the crew that jumped would be Spitz, Primm, Melton, Brandenberg and Cressman. The two members of the crew that went back to probably sanitize either the aircraft or Bernhardt would be Primm and Melton. Both were found shot to death at the site. (This comes from another witness to this committee.) We knew that the three referenced on February 17th did not have a linguist among them, but that the three were SIGINT specialists. All seven would be taken first to Tchepone then to Khe Sanh then to Vinh. At Vinh, we know that the SIGINT specialists would then be taken either to Moung Sen or Bai Thuong. I believe that they were sent to Bai Thuong. A know that the aircraft was NOT downed by AAA fire. I have seen a photograph, now in possession of the Cressman family, which shows the body of the aircraft intact. It also shows two helicopters, probably American JOLLY GREEN jolly types, flying directly to the crash sight. All subsequent photographs show massive damage to BARON 52. One further note on this incident. In January of 1978, I saw a request from Hanoi going out to all "special" camps asking if all the tu binh thong tin ky thuat (SIGINT specialists POWs) had been sent to Hanoi. This was during the period when the special flights were occurring. See Appendix G. If the crew were still alive, and there was no evidence indicating otherwise, then all SIGINT specialists from BARON 52 were sent to the Soviet Union by the end of January of 1978.