SPITZ, GEORGE ROSS GROUP BURIAL 12/95 Name: George Ross Spitz Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Date of Birth: 17 January 1943 Home City of Record: Kahaluu HI 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 Refno: 1983 Other Personnel in Incident: Arthur R. Bollinger; Dale Brandenburg; Todd M. Melton; Peter R. Cressman; Joseph Matejov; Severo J. Primm (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. ----------------------------- [bit1217.95 12/23/95] NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FAMILIES FOR THE RETURN OF AMERICA'S MISSING SERVICEMEN WORLD WAR II - KOREA - COLD WAR - VIETNAM DOLORES ALFOND - VOICE/FAX - (206) 881-1499 LYNN O'SHEA ---- VOICE/FAX - (718) 846-4350 BITS 'N' PIECES DECEMBER 17, 1995 A SURPRISE WITNESS WAS MARY MATEJOV, MOTHER OF SGT. JOSEPH A. MATEJOV. IN THE DEC. 9TH BIT 'N' PIECES, WE DESCRIBED THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN TO BURY THE 4 BACKENDERS OF BARON 52, IN SPITE OF THE MASSIVE INFORMATION SUPPORTING THEIR CAPTURE. IN A LETTER SENT TO CONGRESSMAN DORNAN PRIOR TO THE HEARING MRS. MATEJOV STATED "THERE IS NO WAY TO DISCREDIT THE INTELLIGENCE REPORTS THAT DESCRIBE THE CAPTURE AND MOVEMENT OF 4 FLIERS, NORTHWARD TOWARD HANOI. THOSE REPORTS CAN ONLY RELATE TO MY SON AND THE SURVIVING CREWMEN FROM "BARON 52." I DO NOT DISPUTE A BURIAL FOR THE THREE OR POSSIBLY FOUR MEN WE KNOW DIED ON THIS FLIGHT. CAPTS. SPITZ AND BOLLINGER AND LTS. PRIMM AND BERNHARDT DESERVE THIS HONOR. THEY KEPT THAT AIRCRAFT IN THE AIR, LONG ENOUGH TO GIVE THE BACKENDERS JOE, PETER CRESSMAN, TODD MELTON AND DALE BRANDENBURG TIME TO JETTISON (ACCORDING TO PROCEDURE) THE ELECTRONICS EQUIPMENT AND BAIL OUT. HOWEVER, IN HONORING THESE MEN, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO IGNORE THE REAMS OF INTELLIGENCE DATA WHICH PROVE MY SON ALONG WITH SGTS CRESSMAN, MELTON, AND BRANDENBURG WERE CAPTURED." IN HIS STATEMENT, FOR THE RECORD, SENATOR SMITH SPOKE OF THE "BARON 52" INCIDENT. HE STATED "THE COMMITTEE (SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON POW/MIA AFFAIRS" WAS NOT DEALT WITH IN A STRAIGHTFORWARD MANNER BY DOD OFFICIALS CONCERNING INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION THAT MIGHT CORRELATE TO THIS CASE. INDEED, MEMBERS WERE MISLEAD BY A DOD OFFICIAL AT THE TIME -- SOMEONE WHO, INCIDENTALLY, STILL WORKS FOR GENERAL WOLD." SENATOR SMITH ALSO STATED "NOW, IN THE ABSENCE OF IDENTIFIABLE REMAINS BEYOND HALF OF A TOOTH, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF RECORDS FROM NORTH VIETNAMESE ARCHIVES, THE PENTAGON HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE ENTIRE CREW WILL BE BURIED ON JANUARY 8, 1996. WHILE WE KNOW THAT HALF OF THE CREW DID PERISH IN THE CRASH, THERE IS NOT CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE TO EXPLAIN THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA) INTERCEPTS INDICATING THE CAPTURE OF AMERICANS IN THE SAME AREA ON THE SAME DAY -- FEBRUARY 5, 1973." IN CLOSING SENATOR SMITH SAID OF "BARON 52" "I KNOW THERE WERE DOG TAGS AND PARACHUTE RINGS AS WELL WHICH SUGGEST EVERYONE PERISHED IN THE CRASH. AT THE SAME TIME, THE NSA INTERCEPTS REMAIN UNEXPLAINED. AT THE VERY LEAST, THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT SHOULD GO TO THE MIA'S.." --------------------------------------------------- [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.