[180022ZB.OH 06/16/96]

ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE

ROUTINE

R 180022Z AUG 93 ZYB PSN 537743P29

FM CDR JTF-FA HONOLULU HI//J2//

TO SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP:RSA/DPMO-RA/DPMO-RD//

INFO WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASH DC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC//CA/EAP/VLC/CCS/OCS//
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//OCJCS/J5/PW-MIA/J3-JOD//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//J3/J30-M//
USCINCPAC LO WASHINGTON DC
CIA WASHINGTON DC//DEA/SEA/IB/DDO/EA/ICOG//
CDHUSACILHI HICKAM AFB HI//TAPC-PED-H//
RUEHBT /USDAO BANGKOK TH/ /PW-MIA//
RUEHBT/CJTFFA DET ONE BANGKOK TH

UNCLAS //N03460//

MSGID/GENADMIN/CDR JTF-FA/J223//

SUBJ/INTERVIEW OF REQUESTED SOURCE, NGUYEN NGOC SON//

REF/A/FAX/DET 2/16MAY93//



AMPN/SUBJ: LIST OF PERSONS FOR INTERVIEW, ENTRY NUMBER 28 OF 83//

RMKS/1. BACKGROUND. ON 16 AUG 93,  A JOINT U.S./VIETNAM ORAL HISTORY
INTERVIEW TEAM INTERVIEWED RETIRED SENIOR COLONEL (SRCOL) NGUYEN
NGOC SON, A 70 YEAR OLD DONG KY DISTRICT SEAT, BAC THAI PROVINCE
RESIDENT. SRCOL SON WAS FORMERLY THE PAVN 968TH DIVISION (DIV)
POLITICAL OFFICER. THE TEAM MET AT THE THAI NGUYEN HOTEL,  THAI
NGUYEN TOWNSHIP, BAC THAI PROVINCE, TO INTERVIEW SRCOL SON,
A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF INFORMATION CONCERNING U.S. PERSONNEL MISSING
IN ACTION (MIA) IN VIETNAM. THE U.S. CONTINGENT CONSISTED OF TSGT
[XXXX][XXXX][XXXX], JOINT TASK FORCE-FULL ACCOUNTING (JTF-FA)
ORAL HISTORY  PROGRAM COORDINATOR; AND P02 [XXXX][XXXX] JTF-FA ANALYST/
LINGUIST. THE VIETNAMESE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT CONTINGENT CONSISTED OF
LTC LE KY, MINISTRY OF DEFENSE; AND MR. NGUYEN VAN THANG LOI,
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR. SRCOL SON HAD NOT BEEN INTERVIEWED BY A JOINT
TEAM BEFORE.

2. SUMMARY. THE SOURCE, SRCOL NGUYEN NGOC SON (NGUYEENX NGOCJ
SOWN). PROVIDED INFORMATION CONCERNING THE 968TH  DIV'S MISSION
AND OPERATING AREA IN SOUTHERN LAOS BETWEEN LATE 1970  AND 1975.

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THE SOURCE CLAIMED KNOWLEDGE OF NO U.S. ACTIVITY IN HIS UNIT'S AREA
OF SOUTHERN LAOS DURING THAT PERIOD, AND THAT THE 568TH DIV NEVER
CLASHED WITH U.S. OR REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (RVN) GROUND FORCES OR TOOK
U.S. PRISONERS. NEITHER DID THE 968TH DIV EVER SHOOT DOWN A U.S.
AIRCRAFT THE UNIT'S MISSION WAS TO ASSIST LAO COMMUNIST TROOPS IN
LIBERATING SOUTHERN LAOS AND PROTECT THE WESTERN FLANK OF THE HO CHI
MINH TRAIL. THE SOURCE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF PRISON CAMPS IN VIETNAM
OR LAOS. SRCOL SON CLAIMED HE HAD NEVER,  SINCE 1973,  SEEN OR HAD
KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. PERSONNEL,  LIVING FREELY OR AGAINST THEIR WILL,
IN  VIETNAM.

3. DETAILS.
    A. FOLLOWING INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS FROM THE JOINT TEAM AND BAC
THAI PROVINCE OFFICIALS' THE INTERVIEWER OUTLINED THE TOPICS FOR
DISCUSSION. SRCOL SON PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
    B. SRCOL NGUYEN NGOC SON SERVED AS POLITICAL OFFICER FOR THE
PAVN 968TH DIV, A VOLUNTEER UNIT, IN SOUTHERN LAOS BETWEEN
DECEMBER 1970 AND 1975. THE DIVISION OPERATED ON THE WESTERN
FLANK OF THE HO CHI MINH TRAIL IN THE FIVE SOUTHERNMOST LAO
PROVINCES: ATTAPU, SALAVAN, BOULAVAN HIGHLANDS,  CHAMPASAK, AND
"TAVATLONG" (PHONETIC SPELLING). LAO COMMUNIST MILITARY  REGIONS
3 AND 4 ENCOMPASSED THIS REGION. THE UNIT'S PRIMARY MISSION WAS

TO ASSIST LAO COMMUNIST  TROOPS IN LIBERATING SOUTHERN LAOS,  WITH A
SECONDARY MISSION OF PROVIDING SECURITY FOR THE HO CHI MINH  TRAIL'S
WESTERN FLANK. THE 568TH DIV WAS THE ONLY PAVN INFANTRY  DIVISION
STATIONED IN THAT AREA, WITH LAO TROOPS COMPROMISING THE  MAJORITY
OF COMMUNIST FORCES THERE.
    C. IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE 968TH DIV'S ENTRY INTO LAOS IN
DECEMBER 1970, SRCOL SON'S TROOPS ASSISTED IN LIBERATING ATTAPU
PROVINCE. FROM 1971 ON, THE UNIT ASSISTED LAO COMMUNIST FORCES IN
WIDENING THE LIBERATED ZONE THROUGHOUT THE FIVE SOUTHERNMOST LAO
PROVINCES. PAVN DIVISION PERSONNEL WORKED DIRECTLY WITH LAO
COMMUNIST TROOPS IN THIS ENDEAVOR AND,  THE SOURCE CLAIMED,  ALWAYS
TRANSFERRED OPERATIONAL CONTROL TO THE LAO AFTER OCCUPYING AN AREA.
    D. DURING THIS PERIOD, THE DIVISION NEVER ENCOUNTERED OR
CLASHED WITH U.S. OR RVN FORCES, EITHER IN THE PROVINCES OR NEAR
THE HO CHI MINH TRAIL. SRCOL SON CLAIMED HIS UNIT'S MAIN
ADVERSARIES WERE LAO GOVERNMENT TROOPS AND THAI FORCES. THOUGH
DIVISION PERSONNEL OCCASIONALLY SAW U.S AIRCRAFT IN THE AIRSPACE
ABOVE THEIR POSITIONS,  THE 968TH WAS NOT AN AIR DEFENSE UNIT,
WITH 14.5 AND 12 7 MILLIMETER ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS THEIR LARGEST
CALIBER AIR DEFENSE WEAPONS. POLICY WAS NOT TO OPEN FIRE ON OR
RETURN FIRE AGAINST ENEMY AIRCRAFT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS TO AVOID
DRAWING ATTENTION TO THEIR POSITIONS. ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNNERS
OCCASIONALLY FIRED ON ENEMY AIRCRAFT AT NIGHT,  BUT THIS WAS
SELDOM THE CASE. IN 1971 AND 1972,  VERY FEW AIRCRAFT OPERATED IN
SOUTHERN  LAO AIRSPACE,  BUT THE MAJORITY OF THE PLANES THAT DID
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OPERATE THERE WERE PROPELLER DRIVEN. BETWEEN 1973 AND 1975,  U.S.
B-52 STRIKES AND FIGHTER-BOMBERS STRIKES WERE MORE COMMON,  WITH A
STRIKE AGAINST COMMUNIST FORCES IN SOUTHERN LAOS OCCURRING TWO OR
THREE TIMES A MONTH. SRCOL SON CLAIMED HIS TROOPS NEVER SHOT DOWN A
U.S. OR ANY OTHER AIRCRAFT. HE VAGUELY REMEMBERED INCIDENTS OF
AIRCRAFT DOWNED, PROBABLY BY GROUP 559  ELEMENTS' OVER THE HO CHI
MINH TRAIL,  BUT COULD PROVIDE NO DETAILS. SINCE THE 568TH DIV. A
MOBILE UNIT, OPERATED IN REMOTE AREAS OF LAOS,  IT SELDOM RECEIVED
OTHER THAN TACTICAL INFORMATION FROM ITS UPPER ECHELON, AND NEVER
RECEIVED REPORTS OF DOWNED U.S. PILOTS IN ITS OPERATING AREA.
    E. THE 968TH  DIV'S POLICY CONCERNING PRISONERS OF WART ACCORDING
TO SRCOL SON, WAS MAINLY HUMANITARIAN. PAVN PERSONNEL WERE TO TREAT
PRISONERS HUMANELY AND ENSURE THEIR NEEDS WERE TENDED TO AS THE
SITUATION ALLOWED. AFTER CAPTURING A PRISONER, THE 968TH  DIV STAFF
ELEMENT REPORTED TO HIGHER HEADQUARTERS BY RADIO THE NUMBER OF
PRISONERS CAPTURED. PAVN PERSONNEL THEN TURNED LAO AND THAI
PRISONERS OVER TO LAO COMMUNIST FORCES. THE 968TH  NEVER CAPTURED A
U.S. PRISONER, BUT STANDING POLICY WAS TO TREAT THE PRISONER
HUMANELY, REPORT THE INCIDENT TO HIGHER HEADQUARTERS' AND AWAIT
FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS. SRCOL SON BELIEVED THAT, HAD HIS DIVISION EVER
CAPTURED AN AMERICAN,  THE UNIT WOULD HAVE RECEIVED ORDERS TO TURN
THE PRISONER OVER TO THE VIETNAM PRISON SYSTEM FOR INCARCERATION.
    F. CONCERNING PRISON CAMPS IN LAOS OR VIETNAM,  SRCOL SON COULD
PROVIDE NO INFORMATION. SINCE THE 968TH  DIV'S RESPONSIBILITIES
ENDED WHEN THEY TURNED (LAO AND THAI) PRISONERS OVER TO THE
COMMUNIST LAO,  SRCOL SON CLAIMED NO KNOWLEDGE OF PRISON CAMP
SYSTEMS IN LAOS OR IN VIETNAM. HE SAID THE DIVISION HELD NO
DOCUMENTS CONCERNING PRISONERS OF WAR. CERTAIN ENTRIES IN THE
UNIT'S OPERATION'S LOG WOULD HAVE RECORDED NUMBERS OF PRISONERS
CAPTURED, BUT SINCE THE 968TH  DIV DISSOLVED IN 1976,  SRCOL SON
HAD NO IDEA WHERE THIS DOCUMENT MIGHT BE NOW
   G. IN RESPONSE TO DIRECT QUESTIONING, SRCOL SON CLAIMED NO
KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. PERSONNEL,  LIVING FREELY OR AGAINST THEIR WILL,
IN VIETNAM SINCE 1973.//

MSGID/GENADMIN/CDR JTF-FA/J223//

SUBJ/INTERVIEW OF REQUESTED SOURCE,  NGUYEN NGOC SON//

RMKS/

4. CORRELATIONS TO EXISTING POW/MIA CASES NONE.

5. POTENTIAL LEADS. NONE.

6. MATERIAL EVIDENCE: NONE. THIS SOURCE BROUGHT NO RECORDS,

                               Page 3

NOTEBOOKS, DIARIES, OR ANY MATERIAL EVIDENCE ASSOCIATED WITH
UNACCOUNTED FOR PERSONNEL.

7. COMMENTS.
    A. THE SOURCE, SRCOL NGUYEN NGOC SON, WAS RELAXED AND
STRAIGHTFORWARD DURING THE INTERVIEW. HE SHOWED NO EVIDENCE OF
COACHING OR SCRIPTING, NOR DID HE LOOK TO THE VNOSMP FOR GUIDANCE AT
ANY TIME DURING THE SESSION THE INTERVIEW TEAM FOUND NO
CONTRADICTIONS IN HIS STATEMENTS. ASSESS THIS SOURCE'S RELIABILITY
TO BE GOOD.
    B. THE MEMBERS OF THE JOINT TEAM CONFERRED ON THE QUESTIONS

TO BE ASKED DURING THIS INTERVIEW. TEAM MEMBERS AGREED THAT THE NEED
TO RE-INTERVIEW THIS SUBJECT WOULD DEPEND ON WHETHER FURTHER
QUESTIONS FOR SRCOL SON ARISE DURING THE COURSE OF THE SPECIAL
INTERVIEW TEAM'S FUTURE WORK.
    C. REQUEST THE VNOSMP MAKE SRCOL NGUYEN NGOC SON AVAILABLE
FOR RE-INTERVIEW IF NECESSARY.//

BT

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