Name: Dean Andrew Pogreba
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit: 49th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Yakota, Japan (TDY to 36th TFS, Takhli
Date of Birth: 16 March 1922
Home City of Record: Three Forks MT (Family in CO)
Date of Loss: 05 October 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213021N 1062108E (XJ401786)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D
Refno: 0162
Other Personnel in Incident: none

Bruce G. Seeber Incident # 0160 (released POW); from USAF F4 on same day
nearby location: James O. Hivner; Thomas J. Barrett Incident # 0161 (both
released POWs); Phillip E. Smith Incident # 0149 (released POW) captured
from an F104C downed over Chinese territory on September 20.

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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.


SYNOPSIS: On September 20, 1965 an American pilot named Capt. Phillip E.
Smith was shot down over the Chinese island of Hai Nan Tao. The case of
Capt. Smith ultimately became entwined with those of other American pilots
lost in North Vietnam the following month. Capt. Smith was flying an Air
Force F104C and his loss over Hai Nan island is perplexing.

The Lockheed F104 Starfighter was an unusual aircraft created in the
mid-1950's to fill a need for a more maneuverable, faster fighter aircraft.
The result was a Mach 2-speed aircraft thrust into a combat-aircraft world
of Mach 1 and below. The aircraft itself is spared looking like a rocket by
its thin and extremely short wings set far back on the long fuselage, and a
comparatively large tailplane carried almost at the top of an equally
enormous fin. One less apparent peculiarity was an ejection seat which shot
the pilot out downwards from under the fuselage rather than out the canopy
of the cockpit. The Starfighter was primarily a low-level attack aircraft
capable of flying all-weather electronically-guided missions at supersonic

Why Capt. Smith was flying a strike aircraft over 40 miles inland in Chinese
territory is a matter for speculation. While the flight path to certain
Pacific points from Vietnam may take a pilot in the general vicinity of the
island, China was denied territory. According to one pilot, "Hai Nan was on
the way to nowhere we were supposed to be, and on the way back from the same
place." Either Smith was unbelievably lost or was on a mission whose purpose
will never see the light of day. Capt. Smith was captured by the Chinese.

Lieutenant Colonel Dean A. Pogreba was an F105D pilot attached to the 49th
Tactical Fighter Squadron at Yakota, Japan. In the fall of 1965, Pogreba was
given a temporary duty assignment to fly combat missions out of Takhli (Ta
Khli) Airbase, Thailand.

The aircraft flown by Pogreba, the F105 Thunderchief ("Thud") flew more
missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also
suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which caused the
aircraft to be constantly under revision.

On October 5, 1965, Pogreba departed Takhli as flight leader of a five-plane
combat section on a bridge strike mission north of Hanoi in North Vietnam.
Capt. Bruce G. Seeber was Pogreba's wingman on the mission. Capt. Seeber was
in a single seat aircraft. At a point near the borders of Lang Son and Ha
Bac provinces, both Seeber's and Pogreba's aircraft were hit by enemy fire
and crashed. The location of loss given by the Defense Department is
approximately 40 miles southwest of the city of Dong Dang, which sits on the
border of North Vietnam and China. The area was "hot" with MiGs,
surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and anti-aircraft fire.

On the same day, an Air Force F4C Phantom fighter/bomber was shot down
approximately 5 miles from the city of Kep, and about 10 miles south of the
official loss location of Pogreba and Seeber. The crew of this aircraft
consisted of Major James O. Hivner and 1Lt. Thomas J. Barrett.

Curiously, Radio Peking announced the capture of an American pilot that day,
giving the pilot's name and serial number. It was Dean Pogreba that had been
captured. The U.S. never received separate confirmation of the capture,
however, and Pogreba was listed Missing in Action.

Gradually, it became known that the crew of the F4, Barrett and Hivner had
been captured by the North Vietnamese. Likewise, Bruce Seeber was also
identified as a prisoner of war of the Vietnamese. Dean Pogreba's fate was
still unknown.

When American involvement in Vietnam ended, 591 Americans were released from
prisoner of war camps in Southeast Asia. Among them were Hivner, Barrett,
Seeber and Smith. Smith was released by the Chinese. Pogreba was still
missing. None of the returnees had any information regarding his fate, and
all believed he had died in the crash of his plane.

Reports of an American POW held in China that had fueled hopes for the
Pogreba family were correlated to Phillip Smith upon his release. The
Pogreba family thought this was hastily and summarily done. According to
others in the flight with Pogreba, Dean's plane had actually strayed into
Chinese territory. Although no information at all was forthcoming from the
Chinese, the Pogrebas still believed there was a good chance Dean had been

Years passed, and no word of Pogreba was heard. Under the Carter
Administration, most of the men still listed prisoner, missing or
unaccounted for were administratively declared dead because of the lack of
specific information that they were alive. The Pogrebas, although haunted by
the mystery of Dean's disappearance, finally resigned themselves to the fact
that he was most probably dead, and went on with their lives. Dean's wife,
Maxine, with children to raise alone, ultimately remarried.

Then in 1989, Maxine Pogreba Barrell received some shocking news. Through an
acquaintance, she learned of a "high-ranking friend" of Dean's who claimed
to have visited Vietnam and spoken with her former husband. When she
contacted this retired Air Force Brigadier General, he told her a story
quite different from the official account given to Dean's family.

According to the General, Dean had indeed been shot down in China, but had
been brought back across the border into North Vietnam in 1965 by
"friendlies." Several attempts to rescue him had failed; two helicopters had
crashed in the effort. Then food and supplies were dropped to Dean and his
rescuers; recovery efforts were deemed impractical because of the hostile

The General stated that he had never given up on Dean, and had made it his
mission to find the "gray-haired colonel" which he claimed he did in 1988
and 1989, traveling to Vietnam on a diplomatic passport. He told Dean's
family that Dean was alive and well and had adjusted to his "situation,"
which was a solitary life in a village. Dean, he said, leaves the village
daily to work.

Mrs. Barrell does not know how much credence to give the story. On one hand,
she says, the General asked nothing from them. He did not seek them out. On
the contrary, she and her family sought him out. Shortly after they spoke,
the man told her that he was in "trouble" with the U.S. Government and would
not speak with her again.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no way Dean's family can verify or
discount the General's story. A family, at relative peace for over a decade,
is once again suffering the uncertainty that comes with not knowing. The
U.S. Government simply isn't talking to them about it. One cannot simply fly
to Hanoi and beg permission to visit one's relative when Hanoi denies he
even exists.

Unfortunately, the Pogreba story is not an aberration. Many cases of
Americans missing in Southeast Asia are fraught with inconsistencies, some
to the point of outright deception. Still others are hidden under the cloak
of "national security" classification; some cannot be revealed until after
the year 2000. These families will have to wait almost half a century to
know the truth about what happened to their men.

Since the war ended, U.S. intelligence agencies have conducted over 250,000
interviews and perused "several million documents" related to Americans
still missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Many
authorities, including a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency,
having reviewed this largely classified information, have concluded that
scores of Americans are still alive in captivity today.

As long as even one American remains held against his will, we must do
everything in our power to bring him home. How can we afford to abandon our
best men?

                                                [insi1293.txt 12/15/93]

THE INSIDER                                  DECEMBER  1993


Hidden from public view are TOP SECRET programs that hold proof of live
POWs. When the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs completed its
final report, exclusions were made. The committee had taken 108 depositions,
of which 54 are classified TOP SECRET. Unless these 54 TOP SECRET statements
given by witnesses are downgraded in classification or redacted (sensitive
parts covered up), they will never see the light of day.

This writer was provided with a lead to obtain a copy of B/General USAF
(Ret.) Thomas Edwin Lacy, Sr. deposition. One Andy Koch, 25 Howland Pl, Long
Branch, NJ 07740(908-870-1336) challenged the September 1993 issue of THE
INSIDER, which stated "It has been alleged by many well-meaning activists
that MIAs missing from the Vietnam War were secretly returned to the United
States, given cover names, and placed in hiding. This writer has spoken with
several who told their 'secret returnee' story, but can produce no hard copy
documentation which supports these theories."

This is what General Lacy had to say:


(When a government employee is assigned a TOP SECRET or higher "Code Word"
classification, they sign a secrecy agreement which prohibits them from
disclosing their secret knowledge.) One exception to this rule of law comes
to light when a witness is served a Notice of Deposition served by a U.S.
Marshal [a legal summons], then one is required under oath and sworn to tell
the truth under penalty of perjury by before a U.S. Senate committee in a
closed door hearing. It is in this light of day, that Gen. Lacy testified.
Some data in his testimony has been removed (redacted) and the flow of the
hearing went "off record" repeatedly to discuss classified information, so
it would no appear on the record.

Lacy said, "Normally, the process was there was a Top Secret message that
came out of JCS on directions of the White House...Those are separate
operations...We put U.S. Marines into Mai Guia (Mu Gia) Pass in North
Vietnam." Lacy was questioned, "Do you have direct information that these
people were not carried on the missing rolls?", and he responded, "Yes, sir
(men lost on one of these sanitized missions)...I would say there was 10 to
1 that was left versus coming back...so in the vicinity of 5,000 or 6,000
maybe more, that was left in Vietnam after the Paris Peace Accords and
Operation Homecoming."

Lacy said, "I don't recall the names, and I work very hard at not
remembering names of people that went down, people that are POWs, people
that were abandoned in Southeast Asia, because I personally could not take
the emotional overload of being confronted with a family member." Question
to Lacy,

"How long have you worked (on) the POW issue? Answer: "Actively, since the
fall of 1984."

Question to Lacy, "Why don't you start...back in 1965." Answer: "I was at
Second Air Division in Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam...On the fifth day
of October, 1965, I was a mission commander...I was aboard a Navy CCC C-130
command and control...monitoring...the Russian frequencies and the Chinese
frequencies...Colonel Pogreba...was hit...We directed him...140 degrees to
get out of the Gulf of Tonkin to where his feet was wet...he should have
been out over the water in between 8 and 10 minutes...Then he called and
said that I'm being shot at by a MIG. I've been hit. I'm bailing out...and
we were listening to an intercept by the Chinese that were shooting at an
aircraft that strayed across the border...the Chinese MIG reported him shot
down was well northwest of Hanoi, over China's mainland itself." Lacy
offered that the monitoring of the Chinese frequency "...were recorded..."

Question to Lacy, "You personally were on the phone with Pogreba on the way
down?" Answer: "Yes, sir...I was being told by the guy that monitored the
Chinese frequency that hey, a MIG's shooting down a 105."

Question to Lacy, "So our people knew that the plane went down in China?"
Answer: "Yes, sir."

Question to Lacy, "Was CIA involved in this? Answer: "Yes, sir...After
General Simler called me back and said hey, we're in trouble because of a
downed air crew, we don't know whether the Chinese are going to come into
the war or not, he said we're going to get him out...we're going to send
people in to bring him out..."

Lacy continues, "There were five Americans, U.S. Special Forces, (redacted
data) that spoke Chinese and Vietnamese. They were Asian Americans. They
were sent in to get Colonel Pogreba...out of the prison camp in China."
Question to Lacy, "Do you know they were Asian Americans?" Answer: " Yes,
sir. I saw the people. I saw the pilot. I saw three of the five live ones in
January, 1989." Question to Lacy, "And they were all Special Forces?"
Answer: "Yes, sir. U.S. Army."

Question to Lacy, "At some point you hear that Pogreba has been freed from
the Chinese? Answer "Yes...about six weeks later...(THE PLAN)...we were
going to bring him out of China into Vietnam; we were going to cross the
northwest railroad, the Red River, bring him into Laos, to where we could
get him out by other forces, (redacted data)."

Question to Lacy, "And you were briefing your general on this? Answer:
"Yes...I was doing my job, which was tasking all the units to go bomb
targets...We resupplied him on numerous occasions and moved him over to
Haiphong, on to the coast. We sent in a helicopter, a CH-3, to pick him
up...The attempt was unsuccessful."

Question to Lacy, "Are you saying they resupplied these guys in the field
for two years?" Answer: "Yes, sir." (Without picking them up?) "Yes,
sir...my involvement in it ended after about two years (1965-1967)...I
retired in 1977."


Question to Lacy, "You went into Laos?" Answer "Yes...In
1984...because...(we)...had a report that there were live Americans at this
location...(the witness said)...he had seen a live American, white headed,
about 60 years old, he guested, over in Laos while he was visiting his

Question to Lacy, "How many prisoners in total were there?" Answer
"Sixteen." (Lacy tells of going into Laos)

Question to Lacy, "So you found the camp. Did it look like it had recently
been used?" Answer: "Yes...It was not grown up with weeds...There were paths
outside of the camp... footpaths...(it was)...southwestern Laos...the
camp...name(d) ...Nam Ngum. Question: "So..you went in on December 19-1984."

Question to Lacy, "How long did it take you to get from the Red River to Nam
Ngum?" Answer: "Approximately three hours (by jeep)...(the)...prisoner of
war camp was empty...I left Jakarta in May of 1985..Came back to the United
States ...in July or August of 1985...Ken Davenport on the White House staff
(called) he heard that I had some information on the POW's...(and asked if)
would I (come) to Washington? (I came in) late August, of 1985. I talked to
Ken Davenport and we, in turn, talked to...Howard Baker...Nancy Reagan and
President Reagan...We discussed the POW's and the fact that I had heard that
there were a lot of POW's over in Laos."


Question to Lacy, "...You've seen (Captain Tommy Emerson) Gist (MIA 5/18/68)
since you've been in the United States?" Answer: "Yes...At the Veterans
Hospital in Oklahoma City...As I'm aware of the situation, Captain Gist,
along with 61 others, was extracted out of a prisoner of war camp at Hoa
Binh (southwest of Hanoi)...North Vietnam, in January, (1989)...He was
brought out to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand...I met Sara Gist Bernasconi, and she
had remarried (in)...the fall of 1987...I received a call from Sara. (She
had received) his ID card...this ID card is without any damage. It's intact.
There's no heat...there was absolutely no way that he could have gone and
burned up in the airplane. Just physically impossible."

Question to Lacy, "...you later saw Mr. Gist?" Answer: "In the summer of
1989, in the July-August timeframe...at Oklahoma City."

Question to Lacy, "And you saw this guy, Tommy Gist. How did you know it was
Tommy Gist? Answer: "I'd had a photograph of Tommy Gist, and birth
marks...on the left cheek (and I talked to him)...I told him that Sara had
been looking for him. He did not want her to see him in the condition he was
in...He was in a very hallucinatory state, going in and out of
conciousness...he'd had a drug problem...And he was brought back for
treatment of the drug addiction...(They'd been giving him morphine and drugs
for 15 years in Vietnam) ...(And he said that's right, I'm Tommy
Gist)...they did have another name...Walter Ray."


(Lacy tries to tell his story.) "It was 18 January 1989 I was in Hanoi...I
talked to Beverly Pogreba and told her yes, that I'd seen her father in
January, 1989." Question to Lacy, "Wait a second. You'd seen him in January
of 1989?" Answer: "Yes." Question: "I think we've missed something here."
Answer: "I had gone to Hanoi, inquiring of Le Duc Tho of the POW's...After
my meeting with the President of the United States he said he would like to
determine if there were any live American POW's in Southeast Asia. And I
agreed to work that issue, and he, the President, agreed to reimburse me for
my expenses..." Question: "Who did you submit your vouchers to?" Answer: "I
submitted them to the President." Question: "You submitted them to Ronald
Reagan?" Answer: "Yes...it came out of the black budget (and)...I was
reimbursed, up until the fall of (1989)...(by) cash...(in) an envelope."

(Lacy tries to continue to tell his story.) "So we went to the camp at Hoa
Binh, about 30 miles southwest of Hanoi. And the camp was empty." Question:
"Did Le Duc Tho go with you?" Answer: "Yes. And then I wanted him to go with
me up to Bao Ninh, where I had heard Pogreba was." Question: "Did you take
Le Duc Tho to the second location?" Answer: "He would not go...We went into
that place (Bao Ninh, approximately 30 miles northeast of Hanoi) and that's
where Pogreba and three of the five other people they'd gone in to get him
out." Question: "Did you recognize Pogreba?" Answer: "Yes...He was in the
camp...in a cell...they took us in and I saw him." Question: "What did he
say to you?" Answer: "That he thought that the government abandoned him
there. He knew that the war was over. He had been told that his wife had
remarried...And then I asked him to be released, and they would not release
him. We went back to see Le Duc Tho. (was Le Duc Tho not Le Duc An-the
President of the SRV?)

Question to Lacy, "...you are saying that you saw a live American prisoner
of war and that you spoke with him, and you've identified him." Answer: "In
January of 1989." Question: "In 1989. In January?" Answer: "Yes, sir."


Question to Lacy, "So you got a phone call." Answer: "This male voice says
you will not testify before the Senate Select Armed Forces Committee on the
POW's/MIA and hung up. I've had numerous threats against my life on this

Question to Lacy, "Did you take note of the report he made to you?" Answer:
"Yes...I kept them...in a file cabinet...I had that stolen out of my
house...in (the)...spring of 1989."

NOTE: this information was provided by Mrs. Barrell (Pogreba's former wife):
On July 24, 1992 DOD provided the Pogreba family with message 242142Z about
intelligence report IIR6016900892 which identified Pogreba (and nine others)
as prisoner of war based upon data found in a Hanoi Army museum on an
optical computer disc.

NOTE: Mrs. Barrell was unaware that the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA
Affairs had taken a deposition from General Lacy.

NOTE: The USA Today in July 1990 published the Pogreba/Lacy's story, of
having seen Pogreba.

NOTE: The DOD maintains a Biography on Brigadier General Lacy, which says:
He was promoted to the grade of Brigadier General effective July 1, 1975. As
of September 1975 Gen. Lacy was the Commander, Field Command, Defense
Nuclear Agency, Kirkland Air Base, New Mexico. He was responsible for
nuclear weapons testing and research and stockpiles. He graduated from the
Air War College in 1971. He was a fighter pilot in the Korean war and flew
67 combat missions in F-86s; 8 combat missions in the F-105, 227 combat
missions in the F- 100 and A-37 in Vietnam; 48 combat missions in the F-111
in Cambodia. In 1965 Gen. Lacy went to Southeast Asia on Project "Top Dog"
and served as operations staff officer.  From July 1969 to July 1970 he was
the Commander of 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Base
Vietnam. In January 1973 he became Vice Commander of the F-111A equipped
474th Tactical Fighter Wing.

Following the July 1990 USA Today news account, that Lacy claimed to have
seen Mr. Pogreba in Vietnam in January 1989 the Air Force Office of Special
Investigations conducted a security review on 17 August 1990, interviewed
Gen. Lacy to see if he made public disclosure of classified information.

NOTE: The date Lacy says he saw Pogreba in Vietnam, "January 1989" is not
the date the security officer used in his review "during 1988", thus when
Lacy categorically stated that "such a trip has not taken place" he was
telling the truth, about the date-1988. A very clever choice of words and
years was used in the security review.

Lacy stated in the security review that he was in the command and control
aircraft over North Vietnam on 5 October 1965 when Lt. Col. Pogreba was shot
down. Voice tapes were made of the radio transmission. He directed air drops
of supply missions to a down airman. He said, "In response to an inquiry
concerning a trip made to Hanoi by me during 1988, I categorically state
such a trip has not taken place. Any additional information I have
concerning POW/MIAs is in the honor of the appropriate US Government

                                                [nvvc11.94 11/27/94]

National Vietnam Veterans Coalition
Oct-Nov 1994 Newsletter

... The Pogreba ID Card. The Goverment claims Colonel Pogreba's plane
crashed in flames in the side of a mountain. How come Hanoi has his ID Card
in pristine condition, if that is the case?...

                                                [324.txt 12/29/92]

Bob Smith
New Hampshire
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510


              Prepared by the Office of Senator Bob Smith
       Vice-Chairman, Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

                            December 1, 1992

Pogreba, Dean A.                USAF    -Believed shot down and captured
                                        in China. (Thorsness debrief
                                        -Supporting data from Select
                                        Committee deposition points
                                        toward shootdown and possible
                                        capture of Pogreba in China.
                                        -Several additional returned
                                        POWs reported that Pogreba was
                                        believed to have been shot down
                                        over China.

                                                [ssrep7.txt 02/09/93]

                   SMITH 324 COMPELLING CASES

North Vietnam            Dean A. Pogreba

On October 5, 1965, Major Pogreba was the pilot of an F-105D, the
lead in a flight of four aircraft on a strike mission over North
Vietnam.  There was heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target area
in Lang Son Province and rain showers in the target area
intermittently obscured it.   

After completing his bombing mission through dense cloud cover,
Major Pogreba was last seen rolling off the target, still an area
of heavy anti-aircraft fire and from which three surface to air
missiles were launched.  He radioed he was departing the area on
the prebriefed exit route.  The members of the flight also used the
prebriefed exit route and maintained radio silence until reaching
the coast.  Major Pogreba never arrived and was declared missing. 
Visual and electronic search failed to disclose any evidence of
either him or his aircraft.  

Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on Major
Pogreba's precise fate.  However, one returnee offered his view
that while in prison in North Vietnam, "it was thought that Major
Pogreba was down in China" but no one knew the origin of this
story.  Major Pogreba was not identified alive in captivity by any
returning U.S. POW and in November 1977 he was declared killed in
action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of

In February 1991, retired U.S. General Tom Lacy told Major
Pogreba's next of kin that he had spoken with Major Pogreba and
knew where he was.  General Lacy said Major Pogreba was downed over
China and he, General Lacy, had made two failed attempts to rescue

According to a next of kin, the People's Republic of China stated
that an F-105 had strayed into Chinese air space.  The available
record documents that on October 6, 1965, Radios Hanoi and Beijing
reported U.S. aircraft were shot down in certain areas of North
Vietnam and pilots captured on October 5th.  No names of any
captured pilots were given and the areas in which aircraft were
reported shot down did not correlate to an area where Major Pogreba
was operating when declared missing.  

On October 5, 1965, the People's Republic of China announced that
four U.S. aircraft had intruded into Chinese air space over Kwangsi
Province on that date and one had been shot down.  There was no
mention of the type of aircraft involved.  Although Pogreba was
last known to be approximately 40 nautical miles from Kwangsi
Province and was lost on that date, two other aircraft were also
shot down on October 5th, crashed inside North Vietnam and
approximately 30 miles from China, and in the general area where
Pogreba was lost which was not known to be in Chinese air space.

In 1985, China acknowledged it had deployed over 300,000 of its
forces in northern Vietnam during the war years, many of whom were
in the northern tier of provinces which included the area where
Pogreba was lost.  Chinese units included various anti-aircraft

                                                [insider.txt 07/20/91]

EXAMPLE: U.S.A. Today, a newspaper, reported 7/13/90, "The sighting of Col.
(Dean) Pogreba (missing 10/5/65), who would be 68 now, came from Tom Lacy,
a retired Air Force General who told Pogreba's family he saw the flyer
working in a village North of Hanoi during a visit to Vietnam about two
years ago (1988)."...