MATEO SABOG, 84, of Waipahu, died Nov. 14, 2007. Born
in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Retired U.S. Army master sergeant. .....
Name: Mateo Sabog
Rank/Branch: E8/US Army
Unit: 507th Transportation Group
Date of Birth: 22 November 1921
Home City of Record: Waipahu HI
Date of Loss: 25 February 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: CR082226
Status (in 1973): (none)
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled 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.
SYNOPSIS: MSgt. Mateo Sabog reenlisted in May 1969, and arrived in Vietnam on
May 29, 1969. In late February, he had served his tour and was scheduled to
leave Vietnam. He had served with the 507th Transportation Group in Vietnam,
and had been in the Army for 24 years, including his Vietnam service.
Sabog cleared the headquarters of the 507th Transportation Group in Saigon on
February 25, 1970, and was scheduled to be returned to the 12th Transportation
Group at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Somewhere along the way, Sabog disappeared.
There were no records to indicate whether his ticket home was ever used, or if
his personal effects were claimed. The Army doesn't know if he disappeared in
Vietnam or in the U.S.
The Army listed him AWOL (absent without leave), and after 30 days, they DFR'd
him (dropped from rolls), and listed him as a deserter. His dependents did not
receive pay or allowances following this determination. Sabog was carried in
this status for a number of years.
Finally, a family member or someone with an eye for detail recognized the
improbability that Sabog would have deserted after all his years in the Army,
and in light of his good service record. The Army revised its determination,
removed Sabog from AWOL status and declared him dead as of the date of his
disappearance on February 15, 1970.
Still, no one really knows what happened to Mateo Sabog. Did he have his fill
of war and desert in Saigon or even Hawaii? Did he meet with some accident in
Saigon? Or could he have been captured by the Viet Cong and perhaps be among
those who are said to be still alive today?
'Dead' Soldier Alive In Ga.
8 Mar 96 18:22 EST
The Associated Press.
ROSSVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- Mateo Sabog occasionally told war stories to
his neighbors and once confessed to police that he thought he had
deserted the Army during the Vietnam War. When police checked with
military officials, however, they were told: No, the story couldn't
be true, Mateo Sabog was dead.
Now, it turns out the Army master sergeant -- whose name is on the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington -- did indeed go AWOL and had
been working as a companion for an elderly woman in this northwest
Georgia town. .....
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FAMILIES
FOR THE RETURN OF AMERICAS MISSING SERVICEMEN
WORLD WAR II - KOREA - COLD WAR - VIETNAM
DOLORES ALFOND - 206-881-1499 BITS 'N' PIECES
LYNN O'SHEA ---- 718-846-4350 MARCH 9, 1996
POW/MIA ALIVE IN THE UNITED STATES! THE STRANGE CASE OF MATEO SABOG.
LAST MONTH MASTER SERGEANT MATEO SABOG, LISTED AS MISSING FROM THE
VIETNAM WAR, FILED FOR HIS SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS. A SOCIAL SECURITY
ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEE INFORMED MSG. SABOG THAT HE WAS DEAD. SABOG
INSISTED HE WAS NOT DEAD, BUT HAD NO PAPERS OR DOCUMENTS TO PROVE HIS
IDENTITY. SABOG GAVE THE NAME OF A BROTHER, IN HAWAII, TO IDENTIFY HIM.
THAT IS HOW THE FAMILY OF MATEO SABOG, DEAD FOR 26 YEARS, LEARNED HE WAS
ALIVE. ACCORDING TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, ARMY OFFICIALS ARRIVED IN
ROSSVILLE GA., THIS WEEK, AND FINGERPRINTED MSG. SABOG. THOSE PRINTS
WERE COMPARED TO PRINTS IN HIS MILITARY RECORDS, AND MASTER SERGEANT
SABOG'S IDENTITY WAS CONFIRMED.
THE ARMY MADE NO FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT AS TO THE RESURRECTION OF MASTER
SERGEANT MATEO SABOG. INSTEAD, THE STORY WAS GIVEN TO SUSAN KATZ
KEATING (AUTHOR OF THE HIGHLY INACCURATE "PRISONERS OF HOPE.") ON MARCH
7TH, 1996 THE WASHINGTON TIMES PUBLISHED THE STORY.
ACCORDING TO THE KEATING ARTICLE, "THE ARMY LEARNED HE WAS ALIVE ONLY
LAST WEEK, WHEN HE USED HIS CORRECT NAME AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
WHILE APPLYING TO THE DEPT. OF VETERANS AFFAIRS FOR BENEFITS...."
KEATING ALSO DISCUSSED THE FINGERPRINTS.
"IT IS A VERY UNUSUAL CASE AND IS CURRENTLY UNDER INVESTIGATION," SAID
MAJ. ANDA STRAUSS, SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE ARMY PERSONNEL COMMAND. "SO FAR,
ALL WE REALLY KNOW IS THAT AN OLD MAN SHOWS UP WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE ON
OUR MIA ROLLS. WE HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS. WHAT HAPPENED BACK IN 1970
THAT LED TO HIS DISAPPEARANCE?"
KEATING ALSO QUOTES AN UNNAMED SOURCE "CONNECTED WITH MILITARY
INTELLIGENCE" AS SAYING "EVEN THOUGH THE ARMY LOST TRACK OF MR. SABOG IN
VIETNAM, THE FORMER LOGISTICS SERGEANT DID IN FACT BOARD A PLANE HEADED
FOR THE FORT BRAGG ARMY BASE NEAR FAYETTEVILLE, N.C."
QUOTING ARMY MAJOR STRAUSS, THE ARTICLE CONTINUED, "THIS IS NOT ANOTHER
BOBBY GARWOOD SITUATION," SHE SAID. "WE ARE NOT GOING TO HARDBALL THIS
CASE." MAJOR STRAUSS CONTINUED, "HERE IS A GUY WHO, FOR WHATEVER
REASON, DISAPPEARED. HE'S BEEN SOMEWHERE FOR THE LAST 26 YEARS. BUT HE
SERVED HIS COUNTRY HONORABLY. WE WILL TREAT HIM WITH DIGNITY."
ON MARCH 8TH, 1996 THE ARMY ISSUED A FORMAL NEWS RELEASE. ACCORDING
ARMY SPOKESPERSON COL. DON MAPLE, "WE ARE TREATING MASTER SERGEANT SABOG
LIKE A LONG LOST SOLDIER RETURNED."
THE RELEASE CONTINUED "IN FEBRUARY 1970 HE WAS AT THE END OF A TOUR IN
VIETNAM AND HAD OUT PROCESSED FROM HIS UNIT WITH ORDERS TO A NEW
ASSIGNMENT AT FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA. THAT IS WHERE OFFICIAL
RECORDS LAPSE. OFFICIALS AT FORT BRAGG WERE NOT AWARE SABOG WAS TO
REPORT HERE AND DID NOT MISS HIM, WHEN HE FAILED TO APPEAR. RECORDS
INDICATE THAT IN 1973 SABOG'S BROTHER WROTE THE ARMY ASKING THE
WHEREABOUTS OF MSG. SABOG. IT WAS AT THAT TIME THAT SABOG'S
DISAPPEARANCE CAME TO LIGHT. AFTER REVIEWING AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, THE
ARMY'S DESERTER INFORMATION POINT ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT SABOG
HAD DESERTED. IN 1979 SABOG'S BROTHER WROTE THEN PRESIDENT CARTER
SEEKING ASSISTANCE IN FINDING INFORMATION ON HIS BROTHER AND CHALLENGING
THE ARMY'S DETERMINATION THAT HE HAD DESERTED...."
"THE BOARD OF OFFICERS DETERMINED THAT IS WAS REASONABLE TO PRESUME THAT
MSG. SABOG WAS DEAD. BASED ON SUCH EVIDENCE AS UNIT PERSONNEL
ACCOUNTABILITY REPORTS, STATEMENTS FROM UNIT MEMBERS AND FRIENDS,
LETTERS FROM THE FAMILY AND FBI REPORTS REAFFIRMING THAT SABOG COULD NOT
BE LOCATED, THE BOARD CONCLUDED THAT HE "DID NOT ABSENT HIMSELF
VOLUNTARILY," AND THAT HE SHOULD NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS A DESERTER. THERE
WAS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAD 24 YEARS OF
HONORABLE SERVICE, WAS RETIREMENT ELIGIBLE AND WAS RETURNING FROM
VIETNAM WOULD DESERT FROM THE MILITARY."
"THE BOARD RECOMMENDED SABOG'S STATUS BE CHANGED FROM DESERTER TO
"MISSING, PRESUMPTIVE FINDING OF DEATH," EFFECTIVE MARCH 26, 1970, WHICH
WAS THE DATE HE WAS TO HAVE REPORTED TO FORT BRAGG. THIS RECOMMENDATION
WAS APPROVED AND SABOG'S FAMILY WAS NOTIFIED IN DECEMBER, 1979. IN
1993, MSG. SABOG'S NAME WAS ADDED TO THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON,
SO MUCH FOR THE ARMY PRESS RELEASE. NOW TO THE REST OF THIS FAST
BREAKING STORY. ACCORDING TO REPORTS, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT SABOG
USED HIS PLANE TICKET OUT OF VIETNAM OR THAT HIS PERSONNEL EFFECTS WERE
CLAIMED. IT IS PRESUMED THAT SABOG DEPARTED VIETNAM. HOWEVER, IN
THE COMPREHENSIVE CASE REVIEW, PREPARED FOR CONGRESS IN 1995, THE
PENTAGON STATED "THERE NEVER WAS ANY CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS
THE ARMY DECLARED MSG. SABOG AWOL (ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.) THIRTY DAYS
LATER, THEY DECLARED HIM A DESERTER. AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT LIST, DATED
APRIL 1988, DESCRIBES SABOG AS "CARRIED BY SERVICE AS DEAD BUT JCRC
ANALYSIS INDICATES INDIVIDUAL TO HAVE BEEN A DEFECTOR/ COLLABORATOR, NOW
CARRIED AS DEAD."
IN JUNE 1992, INVESTIGATORS FROM JOINT TASK FORCE - FULL ACCOUNTING
(JTF-FA) ADDED THE CASE OF MATEO SABOG #2059, TO THEIR LIST OF CASES TO
BE INVESTIGATED DURING THE JUNE 15TH, 1992, INVESTIGATION AND RECOVERY
ACTIVITY. THEIR DESCRIPTION OF THE CASE READS "2059 (GROUND INCIDENT,
ONE UNACCOUNTED FOR."
AS PART OF THE 34TH JOINT FIELD ACTIVITY (JFA), CONDUCTED IN EARLY 1995,
INVESTIGATORS WERE LED TO A GRAVE IN BINH DINH PROVINCE. OFFICIALS OF
THE PROVINCE BELIEVED THE GRAVE CONTAINED THE REMAINS OF AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER. THE GRAVE WAS EXCAVATED. "ANTHROPOLOGISTS IN BINH DINH
PROVINCE EXAMINED THE REMAINS POSSIBLY ASSOCIATED THEM WITH CASE 2059"
(SABOG.) AMONG THE REMAINS WERE 22 TEETH WITH 5 POSSIBLE RESTORATIONS.
ALSO, RECEIVED WERE PERSONNEL EFFECTS AND CLOTHING.... ANTHROPOLOGISTS
TENTATIVELY ASSOCIATED REMAINS AND EFFECTS WITH CASE 2059."
ON APRIL 11, 1995, REMAINS ASSOCIATED TO CASE 2059 (SABOG) WERE RETURNED
TO THE UNITED STATES. THE SABOG FAMILY WAS NOTIFIED AND AWAITED FORMAL
IDENTIFICATION. DENTAL COMPARISON WAS INCLUSIVE AND THE ARMY WAS
PREPARING TO DO DNA TESTING, WHEN THEY DISCOVERED SABOG WAS ALIVE.
AS OF MARCH 8TH THE ARMY HAS "INITIATED ACTION TO BRING HIM BACK ONTO
ACTIVE DUTY SO THAT HIS LEGAL STATUS CAN BE ESTABLISHED, AND SO HE CAN
RECEIVE ANY MEDICAL, LEGAL OR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE HE MIGHT NEED.
HE IS CURRENTLY UNDERGOING A MEDICAL EVALUATION AT THE EISENHOWER ARMY
MEDICAL CENTER, FORT GORDON, GEORGIA. HE HAS BEEN IN CONTACT WITH HIS
FAMILY AND PLANS ARE BEING MADE FOR A REUNION IN THE NEAR FUTURE."
THE ARMY MAY HAVE MANY QUESTIONS BUT OUR GUESS IS WE HAVE MORE. LETS
START WITH THE KEATING ARTICLE AND THE FINGERPRINTS. DURING THE SENATE
SELECT COMMITTEE WITNESSES TESTIFIED THAT OVER 900 SETS OF POW/MIA
FINGER PRINTS WERE DESTROYED. SABOG'S PRINTS WEREN'T DESTROYED. WHY
WHERE THE OTHERS DESTROYED?
KEATING ALSO QUOTES ONE OF HER FAMOUS UNNAMED SOURCES "CONNECTED WITH
MILITARY INTELLIGENCE" AS SAYING SABOG " DID IN FACT BOARD A PLANE
HEADED FOR THE FORT BRAGG." IF THIS IS SO, THEN HE DESERTED. YET, THE
ARMY AGREED TO CHANGE HIS STATUS AS MISSING IN VIETNAM. WHY? PERHAPS
MS. KEATING NEEDS NEW AND ACCURATE SOURCES. COULD THIS BE THE SAME
SOURCE THAT TOLD HER THE CIA FORGED THE 1205 DOCUMENT AND PLANTED IT IN
KGB ARCHIVES FOR DR. STEPHEN MORRIS TO FIND?
WHY DID THE ARMY ALLOW A STATUS CHANGE FROM DESERTER TO POW/MIA, IF
SABOG BOARDED THE PLANE FOR THE UNITED STATES, AS MS. KEATING
AND HER UNNAMED SOURCE CLAIM?
WHY DID THE PENTAGON, IN 1995, CONTINUE TO STATE "THERE NEVER WAS ANY
CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS PRESUMPTION," THAT HE GOT ON
WHY IS THE MEDIA NOW REPORTING, AS FACT, THAT SABOG DID ARRIVE IN THE
U.S., WHEN THE ARMY CONCLUDED IN 1979, THAT HE "DID NOT ABSENT
WHY ISN'T THE ARMY TREATING HIM AS A DESERTER, IF HE DID ARRIVE IN THE
U.S.? THE MARINES RECENTLY COURT MARTIALED A MAN WHO COMPLETED
HIS TOUR OF DUTY IN VIETNAM, ARRIVED IN THE U.S. AND LEFT FOR
CANADA. HE LIVED IN CANADA FOR 25 YRS.BEFORE RETURNING TO THE U.S. WHY
WERE JTF-FA INVESTIGATORS LOOKING FOR SABOG, IN VIETNAM, IF THEY
KNEW HE WAS HOME?
WHY DISAPPEAR WHEN, WITH 24 YEAR IN SERVICE, HE COULD HAVE RETIRED
WITH FULL PENSION AND BENEFITS?
DID SABOG HAVE ANY FUNDS AVAILABLE TO HIM WHEN HE ARRIVED IN THE U.S.?
DID THE FBI FIND ANY EVIDENCE THAT BANK ACCOUNTS WERE EMPTIED?
HOW DID HE LIVE WHEN HE FIRST ARRIVED IN THE U.S.?
WHY IS MSG. SABOG, AGE 74, ONLY NOW APPLYING FOR HIS SOCIAL SECURITY
WHAT NAME AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER DID SABOG LIVE AND WORK UNDER FOR
THE LAST 26 YEARS?
WHY NOT APPLY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THAT NAME?
HOW IN A SOCIETY OF NUMBERS DID HE REMAIN INVISIBLE FOR 26 YEARS?
WHY DIDN'T SABOG CONTACT HIS FAMILY FOR THE LAST 26 YEARS, IF HE
WAS LIVING IN THE U.S.?
WHEN WILL MSG. SABOG BE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THE MEDIA?
HOW WERE REMAINS ASSOCIATE TO THIS CASE?
WHAT "EFFECTS" WERE USED TO MAKE THIS ASSOCIATION?
HOW FAR IS THE QUI NHON GRAVE SITE, FROM THE LOCATION SABOG WAS LAST
WHO DO THE REMAINS, THOUGHT TO BE SABOG'S REALLY BELONG TO?
WOULD CIL-HI HAVE IDENTIFIED THESE REMAINS AS SABOG'S, HAD HE NOT
MATEO SABOG, POW/MIA OR DESERTER.... UNTIL THESE AND MANY OTHER
QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED, WE ARE ALL WATCHING, WAITING AND WONDERING..
RUMOR DEPT. - WERE CERTAIN MEMBERS ON CAPITAL HILL ASKED NOT TO COMMENT
ON THE CASE OF MSG. MATEO SABOG?
As of July 26, 1998, The WALL had not been corrected to show him as
"returned alive." (A circle is supposed to be engraved around his cross.)