[060292.OH 04/27/96] KEY JUDGEMENTS: -The General Political Directorate might have retained control of some central records concerning U.S. POWs and MIAs when it ostensibly passed responsibility for U.S. POW/MIA matters to the newly formed Group 875 in late 1972. -The subjects interviewed during this project have only hearsay knowledge that PAVN destroyed its central files on U.S. POWs and MIAs in 1979. SUMMARY: Specialists from the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting I. MAJOR PHAM VAN HOAN: 1. The joint team interviewed retired PAVN Major Pham Van Hoan [Phamj] Vawn Hoanf], aka Pham Van Huan [Phamj yawn Husans], at the government's Le Thach Guest House from 1400 to 1730, 2 June 1992. Major Hoan has been retired from PAVN and living in Cao Bang Province since 1975. VNOSMP member LTC Pham Teo traveled to Cao Bang Province, located Major Hoan, and escorted him to Hanoi on/about 28 May 1992 for interview by the joint team. The interview had three objectives: one, to learn about PAVN's war time records concerning U.S. POWs and MIAs; two, to learn about PAVN's unilateral efforts to collect and preserve remains of Americans who died in Southeast Asia; and, three, to learn about convicted collaborator [xxxx] [xxxx] [xxxx] claims to have seen U.S. POWs in northern Vietnam after 1973. U.S. team members were Mr. [xxxx] [xxxx].[xxxx], Dr. [xxxx] [xxxxx], CWO [xxxx] [xxxx], Mr. [xxxx] [xxxx], and Cpl [xxxx] [xxxx]. Vietnamese team members were SrCol Tran Van Bien (senior MoD representative to VNOSMP), LTC Pham Teo (most experienced MoD expert on the VNOSMP), Mr. Duong Van Ngoc (Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer seconded to the VNOSMP). On 3 June 1992, Mr. [xxxx] held informal discussions with Major Hoan, SrCol Bien, and LTC Teo during lunch (1200-1330) at the Cha Ca La Vong restaraunt in Hanoi. 2. Major Hoan was born in Hoa An District, Cao Bang Province in 1928/27 ((Lunar year Mau Thin/Maauj Thin)). He is a member of an ethnic minority group called the Tay. He has three years of formal education. He does not speak any foreign language. He was a forceful, animated, articulate, and amiable interview subject. He joined the military at age 16 and retired in 1975. a. He entered military service in 1944 when he joined a a Communist Armed Propaganda Team in Cao Bang Province. From 1945 to 1950 he worked as a civilian proselyting cadre in Cao Bang and Lang Son Provinces. From about 1950 to 1952 he was a member of the Lang Son Province military unit. From 1952 to 1954 he served in the PAVN 316th Infantry Division and participated in many of the historic battles against the French in northern Vietnam during that era. b. From 1955 until 1970 he served as a rear services officer at the Moc Chau State Farm ((Nong Truong Moc Chau)) in Son La Province. Major Hoan described the Moc Chau State Farm as an agricultural and livestock production site operated by southerners who had regrouped to northern Vietnam when the country was partitioned by the Geneva Conference in 1954. ((Field Comment: This was one of several state farms established in northern Vietnam after 1954 to produce food for PAVN units that had regrouped to the North.)) c. Major Hoan said none of the former members of the French Expeditionary Forces who remained in Vietnam after the Geneva Accords ever lived or worked at the Moc Chau State Farm. He was aware that a number of former French soldiers, mostly Algerians, Moroccans, and other North African members of the French forces, lived and worked at a "Rallier Camp. located in Ba Vi District ((Field Comment: about 35 km west of Hanoi City)). Many of these men had taken Vietnamese wives and fathered children. Major Hoan said he once visited this "Rallier Camp's" production site. He noted the residents were excellent farmers who raised coffee, rice, cattle, etc. He said he did not know whether any of these former French soldiers remained in Vietnam today. d. Major Hoan said he had no knowledge of any U.S. aircraft losses in the vicinity of Moc Chau. e. In 1970 Major Hoan was assigned duties as a rear services officer in the PAVN POW camp system. He was the chief of a rear service support section located in the Central Film Studio near the Tu So Intersection in southwestern section of Hanoi. U.S. POWs called this camp "The Zoo". Major Hoan's immediate supervisor was Senior Colonel Nguyen Thuc Dai ((Nguyeenx Thucs DDaij)), the then Deputy Director of PAVN's Enemy Proselyting Department. Major Hoan remained in this position until Operation Homecoming in 1973. f. In 1973, shortly after PAVN released the U.S. POWs, Major Hoan turned all of his records over to Senior Colonel Dai's office. Major Hoan was then reassigned to a routine rear services position until he retired in 1975. Since 1975, Major Hoan has lived in his home province of Cao Bang. g. Major Hoan said he believed PAVN never sent any U.S. POWs to the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, or any other country. He was certain that PAVN released all U.S. POWs it was holding at the time of Operation Homecoming in 1973. He was certain that PAVN would not have withheld any U.S. POW in violation of the Paris Peace Agreement. h. Mr. [xxxx] described convicted collaborator [xxxx] [xxxx]. [xxxx] and his claims to have seen U.S. POWs in Vietnam after 1973. Major Hoan said he had not previously heard about [xxxx], either by his true name, any of his adopted Vietnamese names, or any other information about him. Major Hoan also said he had no knowledge of any other Americans who might have voluntarily stayed in Vietnam after 1973. 3. MAJOR MOAN'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE POW CAMP SYSTEM. a. Major Hoan noted that he was assigned to the POW camp system, in 1970, PAVN's Enemy Proselyting Department (CDV--Cuc Dich Van)), General Political Directorate, was the agency of primary responsibility for U.S. POWs. He did not recall the identity of the then Director of the CDV. Major Hoan said he reported directly to the Deputy Director, Senior Colonel Nguyen Thuc Dai. Senior Colonel Tran Van Bien, of the VNOSMP, noted for the record that Senior Colonel Dai died in 1991. b. Major Hoan recalled that in about 1971-72 PAVN formed Group 875, also subordinate to the General Political Directorate, and passed many of the CDV's responsibilities to Group 875. Major Hoan recalled the Commander of Group 875 was Senior Colonel Pham Thai ((Phamj Thais)), who is now deceased. Major Hoan described Senior Colonel Thai as the General Commander of Prison Camps. He recalled that LTC Doan Hanh ((DDoanf Hanhj)) was one of the officers assigned to Group 875; however, he did not know what position LTC Hanh held. c. Although Group 875 ostensibly was the agency of primary responsibility for POW/MIA matters when Major Hoan was transferred out of the camp system in 1973, Major Hoan turned all of his records over to the office of the Deputy Director of the CDV. Major Hoan was unable to explain this apparent anomoly. He said he felt relieved and happy to have no further contact with the CDV or matters pertaining to the U.S. POW/MIA issue. d. When pressed for details about the organization of the CDV and Group 875 and the indentlty of key personnel for these organizations, the POW camps, and his own section, Major Hoan suggested that the U.S. team members obtain this information from the VNOSMP. Major Hoan claimed he never had more than a little knowledge of these topics, and what little he did know has faded from memory during the 19 years since he was last associated with these organizations. He explained that during the war PAVN enforced a strict need-to-know policy on all military matters. As a result, he explained, he learned to take care not to appear too inquisitive or too talkative. e. Major Hoan said that as a rear services officer he had no knowledge of the policies and practices for evacuating and interrogating U.S. POWs. He had no knowledge of the policies and practices for recording, reporting, and preserving records concerning U.S. POWs or casualties. As noted earlier, he said he turned his records over to personnel in the office of the Deputy Director of the Enemy Proselyting Department shortly after Operation Homecoming. f. Major Hoan described his position as the Chief of the Rear Service Station ((Tram Hau Can)) located in the PAVN Film Institute's Central Film Supply Station and Film Studio ((Traij Phats Hangf Phim Trung Uowng and Vieenj Pha Phim)) near the Nga Tu So ((Ngax Tuw Sowr)) intersection in Dong Da District in on the southwestern edge of Hanoi City. Major Hoan explained that this film studio was one of several military installations the CDV borrowed to use as makeshift POW camps. ((Field Comment: U.S. POWs named this camp "The Zoo". )) g. Major Hoan noted that when the war began, the CDV did not have any formal POW camp. Initially, the PAVN high command did not anticipate it would have large numbers of U.S. POWs; therefore, it elected to borrow space in the Ministry of Public Security's (PSS) Hoa Lo Prison. ((Field Comment: U.S. POWs named this prison "The Hanoi Hilton".)) As the number of POWs increased, the PSS pressed PAVN to find alternate facilities. Rather than build an expensive prison, initially PAVN opted to convert existing military facilities into makeshift POW camps. ((Field Comment: Some of the early U.S. POW camps in the Hanoi area belonged to elements of the CDV'S parent organization, the General Political Directorate. In addition to the Film Institute's Studio noted above, these included the PAVN Film Institute's office compound at 17 Ly Nam De Street, which U.S. POWs named "The Citadel. and "The Plantation"; and a small compound at the rear of 4 Ly Nam De Street, which U.S. POWs named "Alcatraz".)) h. Major Hoan said he understood there was a period during the late 1960s when the CDV dispersed U.S. POWs at several sites outside of Hanoi. However, following the U.S. raid on the camp at Son Tay ((Field Comment: November 1970)), the CDV concentrated the POWs at Nga Tu So, Hoa Lo Prison, 17 Ly Nam De Street, and a prison camp in Cao Bang Province. i. Major Hoan said his rear services station supplied food, medical care and supplies, clothing, etc., to the following POW camps in the Hanoi area: - The film supply station and studio near the Nga Tu So intersection. - The film institute compound at 17 Ly Nam De Street. j. Major Hoan was not aware that small numbers of U.S. POWs were held at 4 Ly Nam De Street and the Yen Phu Thermal Power Plant a few blocks north of the head of Ly Nam De Street. He noted his station did not issue items directly to U.S. POWs. His station issued items to PAVN personnel who came to his station from the individual camps. He speculated the rear service cell for 17 Ly Nam De Street might have serviced the two nearby camps. k. Major Hoan said he had limited or no knowledge about the following confirmed U.S. POW camps in northern Vietnam: - Bat Bat ((Beats Bat;)). Hearsay, but never visited. - Son Tay. Hearsay, but never visited. - Ha Nam Ninh, aka Ba Sao. Never heard of it. - Tam Dao ((Tam DDaor)), Dai Dlnh ((DDaij DDinhf)) village, Tam Dao District, Vinh Phu Province. Never heard of it. - Thanh Liet ((Thanh Lieetj)), Thanh Tri District, Hanoi. Hearsay that this is a Ministry of Interior prison; however, never visited it. 1. Major Hoan said he worked in or visited five POW camps: The film supply station and studio ((-The Zoo-)); Lai Xa ((Lad Xas)), located on north side of Route 7, a few kilometers west of Hanoi ((Field Comment: U.S. POWs named this " ")); Bo Giuong ((Bor Giuowngf)), located in Van Thinh ((Vaan Thinhf)) village, Thach An ((Thachj An)) District, aka Dong Khe District Town ((Thij Traanj DDoong Khee)), Cao Bang Province; 17 Ly Nam De Street (("The Citadel-)); and Hoa Lo ((-The Hanoi Hilton-)). 4. MAJOR MOAN's KNOWLEDGE ABOUT U.S. POWs: a. Major Hoan began the interview with a series of questions about individual POWs and a presentation about PAVN's efforts to provide humane conditions for the POWs. Although this presentation had no direct bearing on the purpose of our interview, Major Hoan seemed to feel it was necessary to make this presentation to establish his credentials for the interview team. b. Major Hoan was curious as to why we would ask to interview him. He took obvious pleasure in pointing out that since none of the U.S. team members were personnally acquainted with him we were compelled to take his word and that of the VNOSMP specialists that he was the person we had asked to interview. c. Major Hoan he had direct contact with only a few U.S. POWs. He asked about the current status of several POWs by name: [xxxx]. [xxxx], [xxxx], [xxxx], LTC [xxxx], and USMC Major [xxxx]. He noted the U.S. POWs had given him a very special nickname; however, he was unwilling to reveal it to the interview team. d. Major Hoan said he recalled a Black Major who suffered a dislocated or broken shoulder during his parachute landing and later began to cough blood. He also recalled a Captain who broke both arms when he fell through a roof top in Thanh Hoa Province. He cited the fact that these two men survived as a result of the medical care provided by PAVN as evidence of Vietnam's humanitarian treatment of U.S. POWs. e. 5. I have invited Major Hoan and SrCol Bien and members of his team to lunch on 2 June 1992 (Major Hoan returns to his home in Cao Bang on the afternoon of 2 June). We may learn a few additional points during lunch. 6. I believe this man was helpful and straightforward; however, he has very little knowledge of the subjects we set out to explore. In my judgement, we have received about as much information as this man is able to provide.