USMC War Crime Cover-Up
Create Post
Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1

    Cool USMC War Crime Cover-Up


    Guest Column: USMC War Crime Cover-up

    By Eric Longabardi

    One morning in late September 1950 was a fateful day in the life of then-U.S. Marine Sgt. Carl Vernon Lamb. At the time, Lamb was a rifleman and squad leader in Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

    Lamb’s unit was engaged in an intense and savage battle for Seoul, the South Korean capital. American Marines were taking the city back, block by block, from the North Korean communist invaders. The North Koreans had seized Seoul only months before in a surprise invasion that swept south across the Korean peninsula.

    That day on the streets of Seoul, Sgt. Lamb made a split-second decision to stand up for the truth and the honor of U.S. Marines * and he demanded that his Marine Corps superiors do the same. Carl Lamb is still making that demand to the Marines some 53 years later.

    This is what Sgt. Lamb says happened on that day in Seoul.

    A Marine buddy, another sergeant in Fox 2/1, came and told him of a sight he had to see with his own eyes. Lamb then went to the site in the basement of a hotel, the tallest building in the city. With own eyes, Lamb says he saw the aftermath of a massacre * dozens of dead, stripped naked POWs who were piled in a dry “swimming pool.” The dead POWs had been machine-gunned at close range.

    The night before, Lamb says he believes he heard the crime being committed * a swelling burst of gunfire when he was near by the same hotel, but he had no idea at the time where the gunfire had been coming from or what it meant.

    He never got over the outrage he felt over what he says he witnessed. The bodies were piled one on top of another, riddled with bullets. The stench of death permeated his senses and his consciousness.

    Death was not new to Sgt. Lamb. He was no stranger to killing. He had done and seen plenty of it himself on his march to and through Seoul. He would do and see even more killing in the months ahead in the cruel and brutal reality of the Korean War.

    What he saw was more than death * in just the few minutes he spent looking upon the scene inside the Seoul hotel * he realized that a number of unidentified Marines in his midst were cold-blooded murderers.

    Lamb believed then and still believes today there was no “fog of war,” no “gray area” surrounding the incident. There was no justification for this kind of killing.

    Sgt. Lamb was a Marine and by all accounts, a very good one. His fellow Marines looked up to him. He decided that he could not let this incident go. Lamb complained about it immediately after he saw it and hasn’t stopped complaining about it for 53 years. Marines are trained to kill, not to murder.

    I reported on this alleged war crime incident last month in an exclusive investigative report published in the pages of U.S. News & World Report (“Cover-up of War Crime Committed by U.S. Marines in Korea”). The article was the result of more than two years of investigation on my part. The twist and turns of the story itself illuminate a number of disturbing realities not only about a clear governmental cover-up, but also about the state of commercial journalism today in the post 9/11 world.

    The story received no follow-up national media attention after it was published. The Pentagon press corps ignored it. In contrast, it did receive widespread follow media coverage in Lamb’s home state of West Virginia. The major newspaper in the state, The Charleston Gazette, covered the story on its front page and called for a congressional investigation of the case in an editorial. None of that has yet prompted the Defense Department or Navy Department (which supervises the Marine Corps) to mount an honest investigation into the war-crime allegations.

    In fact, Lamb had transmitted these allegations to the Marine Corps, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and DoD in 2001. The case was never made public until my story was published in 2003. Even today the Marines have still never publicly announced any aspect of this war crime investigation.

    Despite its own official words and assurances by the Marine Corps inspector general that the service would look into the incident in a preliminary investigation to determine if evidence existed which would warrant a full investigation of this case, nothing has happened.

    To date, the Marine Corps and the Navy have refused to reopen the case despite overwhelmingly compelling evidence that they should - even after publication of my November 2003 story that contained additional evidence concerning the Seoul massacre. Nor has the NCIS take action yet, despite the fact that it is legally obligated to investigate homicide cases within the Navy and even created its own “cold case” squad in the mid-1990s to investigate alleged cases like this.

    The Marine IG did little in the way of an honest preliminary investigation. Their previously secret whitewash amounted to nothing less than a continuing cover-up of the incident.

    The most damning single piece of evidence, among many, are statements made by multiple Marines of the accused unit * Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Moreover, a unit “After Action Report” written in February 1951 refers directly to the battle for Seoul and states the following:

    “The killing of prisoners is something that should be watched. We had some of that going on.”

    Although my story exposed the Marine Corps’ secret whitewash investigation of the war crime case, to date, the Marine Corps has had exactly two words to say on the record: “No comment.”

    The facts of this story are clear. Americans should demand that their government tell them the truth, not cover it up.

    The NCIS should reopen this case and do an honest murder investigation. The cover-up that has gone on for the past 53 years dishonors all Marines and soldiers who take an oath to defend and protect the American people and our Constitution.

    Longabardi is a national award-winning independent TV producer and investigative journalist based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at ©2003 Eric Longabardi.


  2. #2
    U.S. News & World Report
    November 3, 2003

    SCOTT DEPOT, W.VA.--There are some things a man simply can't forget. For Carl Lamb, it's the image of bullet-riddled bodies piled one on top of
    another in the basement of a battle-scarred building in the middle of a
    burning hell called Seoul. The Marine Corps veteran can still see the
    bodies of the North Korean prisoners of war, he says, like it was
    yesterday, the memory of what he believes was an American war crime
    seared in his mind by years of nightmares and flashbacks. After all this
    time, more than half a century later, Lamb wants answers. But he has
    little hope, he says, that his government will ever give him any. "They
    couldn't deal with it back then," he says, "and they can't deal with it

    Late one evening this July, Lamb talked about his 53-year odyssey and a
    gnawing sense that he will never know the truth. The neighbor's dogs had
    long ceased their plaintive howling, and the rabbits felt safe once more
    to hop between the old cars dying in the long grass outside his trailer
    home. Lamb is a big man with rugged features and hands the size of a
    basketball player's. The plywood floor creaked under his large feet as
    he sorted through his military records and the dog-eared photos of the
    marines he served with in Korea. He's 74 now, his memory sharp, and he
    speaks with the precision of a man fearful he will leave something out
    or be misunderstood.

    Lamb's life isn't the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting. Born
    dirt-poor in Arkansas, the teenage farm boy found his way into the
    nightmare of the Korean War, a kid soldier who finally made it back not
    quite whole--a wandering jobber who didn't suffer fools lightly, moved
    from place to place as the mood took him, all the while a grim image of
    death burned into his brain like a brand. To put it in its plainest
    terms, what turned Carl Lamb's life inside out, at least by his account,
    was murder--murder of the most coldblooded type. It was late September
    1950, the circumstances a vicious street-to-street battle for Seoul, the
    South Korean capital. The bodies--naked POWs, their threadbare uniforms
    dumped unceremoniously on the floor beside them--were stacked in the
    basement of an old hotel, the Bando, Lamb believes. Who shot the North
    Koreans or why, Lamb doesn't know. He didn't see it happen. What he saw,
    he says, was the aftermath of the slaughter, and it made him sick--sick
    and angry.

    U.S. News has attempted to piece together what happened on that terrible
    fall day in Seoul. The magazine's investigation did not corroborate all
    of the details of the incident Lamb described, but it turned up
    compelling evidence that prisoners were killed in Seoul. The magazine
    unearthed old court-martial records in which a marine testified that a
    sergeant with a machine-gun squad, a close friend, killed some North
    Korean prisoners. The sergeant belonged to Easy Company of the 2nd
    Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment--the same outfit Lamb believes murdered
    the POWs he says he later saw. But there is no reference to the Bando in
    the testimony. Separately, U.S. News obtained a February 1951 Marine
    Corps "after-action" report that refers to the killing of North Korean
    prisoners by members of Easy Company. The report strongly suggests that
    the killings occurred during the battle for Seoul. Finally, several
    former Easy Company marines recall hearing of POWs being killed in a
    Seoul hotel. Some in Lamb's company who fought alongside Easy Company
    also confirm that he complained at the time about a mass killing of
    North Korean prisoners.

    "Something traumatic." Still, there are no easy answers. Many of those
    who fought in Seoul now are in their 70s and 80s. Memories differ on
    details, and the full truth may never be known. In mid-2001, the Marine
    Corps's Office of Inspector General, acting on a complaint from Lamb,
    opened an investigation. Investigators closed the case last year, saying
    that they could not substantiate his allegations that prisoners had been
    murdered in a Korean hotel. While the "sincerity" of Lamb's allegation
    that "he viewed something traumatic" is not disputed, the inspector
    general said, "our ability to reconstruct specific events that took
    place more than 50 years ago was hindered by the passage of time."
    That investigation was far from thorough. Investigators made no attempt
    to find and interview possible survivors among the eight Easy Company
    marines who provided information for the 1951 after-action report
    obtained by U.S. News, saying the report was not relevant to Lamb's
    allegations. The investigators also failed to examine the court-martial
    records the magazine reviewed. And they discounted information from a
    former marine who says that, while clearing a large building in Seoul,
    he heard a burst of gunfire and then another marine exclaim that he had
    just shot several North Korean prisoners in a bathing area. The
    inspector general's office appears to have interviewed only 17 of the
    more than 500 men in Lamb's Marine battalion. Investigators also
    questioned a handful of ex-marines who served as guards at the U.S.
    Embassy, which had been located in the Bando Hotel.

    Death In The 'Pool'
    Carl Lamb was a good marine. A squad leader with Fox Company of the 2nd
    Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Lamb killed the enemy, saw too many good
    friends die, was wounded, and put his life on the line to help save his
    buddies. The battle for Seoul was a major conflict in the early days of
    the Korean War, one of the fiercest engagements in the history of the
    Marine Corps. Lamb and his fellow marines took ground a foot at a time,
    fighting their way through barricaded streets, land mines, heavy-weapons
    fire, and North Korean snipers. By the early evening of September 26,
    Lamb says, sporadic fighting continued. Fires burned across the city.
    Fox Company halted its advance, and Lamb took refuge in a building on a
    main street.

    This, Lamb says, is what happened next: Around 6:30 or 7 on the evening
    of the 26th, Lamb heard a burst of automatic gunfire that swelled to a
    crescendo, died away, then swelled again. Lamb jumped outside but
    couldn't locate the source of the gunfire. The next morning--under a
    bright sun, with temperatures in the 60s--Lamb decided to take a look
    inside the nearby Bando Hotel.

    Lamb says he walked down a stairwell and came upon the bodies of North
    Korean prisoners, piled one upon another in what he thought was a small
    "swimming pool." The area measured about 15 by 20 feet and held no
    water. Scores of spent shell casings littered the tile floor in what was
    an eerie makeshift morgue illuminated only by shafts of light from two
    tall windows. Even today, Lamb shudders at the recollection: "I could
    see three layers of bodies. . . . They had obviously been killed the day
    before. Some had moved their bowels. There was excrement all over. . . .

    Whoever killed them, they just stood over them and sprayed the pile"
    with bullets. Lamb stumbled up the stairs, gasping for air--trying to
    get the stench of death from his nostrils.

    That Lamb was upset when he confronted his captain, Goodwin C. Groff, is
    not in dispute. Groff, Lamb's commanding officer, is now dead. But
    several marines remember a heated confrontation between Lamb and Groff.
    "Captain, have you seen what is in the hotel?" Lamb remembers asking,
    tears streaming down his face. " 'Yes, I've seen it, but I'll not hear
    another damn word about it,' " Lamb says Groff replied.

    John S. Sullivan, then a private first class in Fox Company, remembers
    the confrontation, though his account differs in some respects from
    Lamb's. Marines from Easy Company, Fox's sister company, "were marching
    the prisoners into a building," Sullivan says, "and there were some
    shots, and [Lamb] was screaming, 'They are shooting.' " Groff cut him
    off. Sullivan adds: "Everybody on the street heard the two of them."
    Sullivan says, however, that he cannot confirm that North Korean POWs
    were killed in the hotel.

    For many, the confrontation with Groff might have ended the affair. But
    Lamb is a man of stubborn determination. He worried back in 1950--and
    fears to this day--that Easy Company marines executed the enemy soldiers
    he saw in the bathing area. The killings, he says, left him doubting his
    beloved Marine Corps--and it showed. In the year that followed, Lamb
    says, he was court-martialed for refusing an order to have his men carry
    firewood to a superior's tent, hurt his knee in combat, and, finally,
    was sent to a hospital, where his physical and mental health were
    evaluated. As the years passed, Lamb struggled with his painful past.

    Killers. Every war produces atrocities. My Lai still lingers in the
    minds of many Vietnam vets and other Americans. In Korea, the United
    States had its problems with such crimes, but the North Koreans were
    especially skilled at cruelty and sadism--killing defenseless American
    POWs and innocent Koreans. James R. Hellman, an Easy Company veteran,
    remembers a haunting scene on his way to Seoul from Inchon; during one
    half-mile stretch, he passed American and other United Nations prisoners
    lying dead in ditches, shot by their North Korean captors. "We were
    gaining on them, so they executed the prisoners," he recalled in an
    interview. "There were [men] with their hands tied behind their backs
    and their heads blown off." Hellman also says he saw the bodies of
    Korean "women and children executed and grandparents hanging from
    trees." He explains, "You enter an innocent person and come out with
    nothing but hatred. So, if something like what Lamb says happened, an
    isolated incident where prisoners were shot, I would be surprised, but
    it happens. It happens in war."


  3. #3
    Korean veterans emphasize that taking prisoners was risky business. Some
    prisoners faked surrender, then sprang upon marines with hidden weapons.

    During the Korean conflict, says Richard A. Caulley, who was an Easy
    Company corporal, prisoners usually had to be marched back to the
    rear--past mines, snipers, and deadly ambushes. "I risked my life to
    take them back," he recalls, "risked mines and everything else." Then:
    "I had to go back and try and find my unit. It seemed like a lifetime."

    From Arkansas To Over There
    To this day, Lamb can't remember when he didn't want to be a marine. He
    fell in love with the corps as a boy, while watching a newsreel of
    marines fighting their way across the Pacific in World War II. He
    admired the kind of man who could charge head-on into a hail of
    machine-gun fire. The Marines, the young man thought, always did what
    was right: honor, courage, Semper Fi.

    It's easy to see why the Marines Corps held such allure for Lamb. He was
    born in a two-room shack in Jacksonville, Ark., in November 1928, the
    son of a sharecropper. His childhood revolved around working the farm.
    He didn't much like school and was expelled once. By age 15, he was
    asking his father, Fred, to let him enlist in the Marine Corps. His
    father refused, urging him to finish high school. He tried but dropped
    out after getting through just the 10th grade.

    For a few months, the young man worked as an apprentice boilermaker,
    then tried his hand as a tire retreader. After hitchhiking to Houston
    with a brother to work in the shipyards, he returned home to Arkansas to
    ask his father's permission, once again, to join the Marines. The old
    man relented, figuring that World War II was nearly over and his boy
    wouldn't wind up dying on a foreign beach. His induction papers were
    signed in August 1945, in Little Rock. Carl Lamb was 16 years old.

    The limitations of his world until then were clear, reflected in his
    Marine Corps paperwork. It showed two years of high school education and
    his work as a farmhand. Under occupation, Lamb, a skinny 6-foot-2, wrote
    in big block letters, "FARM HAND, GENERAL," noting that for 12 years he

    Lamb's next stop was boot camp. Then it was off to sea school in San
    Diego, where he worked on the USS Fargo CL-106 cruiser. By 1949, he had
    made sergeant, scaring the bejesus out of raw recruits as a drill
    instructor at Parris Island, S.C. There, he says, he first learned how
    to lead men. "Follow me!" became his credo. Lamb had found his calling.
    His performance reviews from then on confirmed a single fact: Carl Lamb
    was an excellent marine.

    Korea exploded the following year. In July 1950, three weeks after he
    married his girlfriend, Nancy Kennell, whom he had met at a polka dance
    in Jerome, Pa., Lamb was assigned as an infantry unit leader of Fox
    Company. The next month, Fox Company shipped out, destination Korea. On
    September 15, the Marines landed at Inchon. Three days later, on the
    march to Seoul, Lamb was wounded. Trying to dig a foxhole under enemy
    fire, Lamb took a piece of shrapnel in the lower left back. "I put my
    hand back, saw the blood," he recalls, "and I began to panic." The wound
    wasn't serious. Lamb rejoined his men on the front lines the next day.

    But the march to Seoul began to take a toll on Lamb. A few days before
    reaching Seoul, Lamb says, he witnessed a superior officer torturing a
    North Korean prisoner during an interrogation. The prisoner had a bullet
    wound in each arm, and the officer stuck his thumbs in both holes, then
    shook the prisoner violently, "trying to get him to talk." Lamb watched
    another officer execute an elderly, wounded Korean, he says, shooting
    the man three times above the ear. Lamb, stunned, kept his rage inside.

    Before long, Lamb's unit was fighting in the streets of downtown Seoul,
    then a city of more than 1 million. James F. Baxter, another unit leader
    with Fox Company, remembers Lamb's actions vividly. Under fire, Lamb and
    three other marines threw Baxter on an old door and dragged him to an
    aid station after a sniper's bullet tore away a chunk of his buttocks.
    Lamb also helped save a wounded medic. "One of the blessings of my
    life," says Baxter, also a World War II veteran, "was serving with him."
    Lamb, Baxter says, was of "the finest moral and physical character of
    any man I ever served with."

    Shooting Gallery
    The bloody battle to retake Seoul for the South Koreans spanned only a
    few days, but many parts of the city were reduced to rubble. The North
    Koreans placed snipers in the buildings along the city's streets, then
    improvised barricades, some piled 8 feet high with rice bags filled with
    dirt and reinforced with debris--carts, barrels, streetcar rails,
    anything they could find. The roads were mined; the North Koreans were
    armed with antitank guns and heavy machine guns. The Soviet newspaper
    Pravda compared the scene to the Russian defense of Stalingrad in World
    War II. "This was a very bitter war, like any civil war, and, up to that
    time, this was its worst battle," recalls retired Brig. Gen. Edwin
    Simmons, a Marine historian who fought for the city that September with
    the 3rd Marine Battalion. "The fighting in Seoul was very fierce, close
    range, and a very hard fight."

    Details of the fighting remain etched in the minds of those in the thick
    of it. "We were taking fire all through Seoul, going from roadblock to
    roadblock," recalls Peter L. Heckenlaible, a corporal at the time.
    Robert N. Hortie, then a private first class, remembers shaking in
    terror. "There was fear in our eyes," he says, "because we were not used
    to it."

    Progress was slow. The 1st Marines had gained no more than 1,200 yards
    on September 26, according to Marine Corps reports. It was during this
    battle that marines from Easy Company recall taking heavy fire from a
    large building, now believed to be the old, eight-story Bando Hotel. The
    hotel figures prominently not just in Lamb's account but in the stories
    of other marines. "There was sniper fire coming from the hotel," says
    Donald F. Gillespie, a squad leader. "We had a bazooka man and everybody
    else putting everything into it." Orders were given to take the hotel to
    suppress the fire. Several marines were ordered inside, among them Cpl.
    Charles N. Garabedian, now 72. Garabedian describes a hellish, dangerous
    moment. Marines rushed through the building, going from room to room,
    bursting in on the North Korean forces shooting from the windows.
    Several marines were wounded, he says, as the squads ran through the
    hallways, killing some of the North Koreans. Garabedian recalls being on
    the second floor of the building. He set up by a window and had a view
    up and down the building's staircase. As some marines continued to clear
    out the building, others took prisoners down the stairwell to another
    marine in a bath area. There were about 12 prisoners. The marine in
    charge was guarding them with his Browning automatic rifle. All were
    forced to strip to make sure none still had weapons.

    Gunfire inside the building began to subside, Garabedian says, when he
    heard a sudden burst and crouched down, afraid that one of the prisoners
    had regained a weapon. "It scared the hell out of me," he recalls. "I
    said, 'Hey, what's going on?' Then I just peeked around the corner to
    see what had happened." Garabedian says the man guarding the prisoners
    walked into the hallway and snapped, "I shot those sons of *****es."
    Garabedian, who spent more than two decades in the Marine Reserve, says
    he doesn't remember who that marine was. But he's convinced, he says,
    that this was not a war crime, though he concedes he doesn't know why
    the marine killed the prisoners--whether the marine was rushed by them,
    accidentally opened fire, or did so unprovoked and intentionally. A
    Marine chaplain who saw the dead prisoners "made a big stink about it,"
    Garabedian recalls, "but to us, who were in this life-or-death
    situation, we took it in stride because we had won a battle."

    Marine veterans from Fox and Easy companies who fought in Seoul told
    U.S. News they remember hearing of only one shooting incident involving
    POWs in a hotel. Garabedian believes that the incident he described
    involved the same prisoners whom Lamb says he saw the next day, the
    27th. There are similarities in their accounts: a bath area, the bodies
    stripped naked and sprayed with bullets. But Lamb says the prisoners he
    saw were in the basement of the hotel--not on the second floor.


  4. #4
    A former staff sergeant in Fox Company, Arthur Farrington, says that
    nobody doubted Lamb when he complained about the killings. Farrington
    told U.S. News that he and others watched several marines march a group
    of prisoners into the hotel and soon after heard a burst of shooting.
    "It was done," he told Marine Corps investigators two years ago.
    "Somebody shot them." Although he says he never saw the prisoners'
    bodies and differed with Lamb on some details, Farrington told
    investigators that he "firmly" believed that Easy Company marines had
    killed the POWs. According to a transcript of his testimony, he
    remembers telling other marines in Seoul in September 1950: "My God,
    they've killed all those prisoners over there." He added in the
    interview with investigators: "That's what everybody was telling me."

    Many marines, in both Fox and Easy companies, talked about the purported
    killings in the days that followed, increasing the speculation about who
    had killed the prisoners and why. One former Fox Company marine, Donald
    Pettit, who was wounded and evacuated before the battle for Seoul, says
    he later heard reports of the POW killings while passing through 2nd
    Battalion headquarters on the way back to the front lines. Samuel L.
    McGowin, then a private first class with Easy Company, says he heard of
    the incident while recuperating in Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland
    from a gunshot wound, but he says he was told the shootings took place
    on a higher floor.

    Settling a score.
    Easy Company's Capt. Charles Fredrick recalls "a fight
    between some marines" and either "soldiers or civilians in a building."
    But, he adds, "I don't know if they were prisoners or not." Fredrick
    says he has always thought the incident involved another Marine company.

    Many other Easy Company marines remember hearing about a POW killing,
    but their recollection of events is clouded by the passage of time.

    When a reporter called James Huebner, for instance, the former sergeant
    said it was difficult to remember an event that occurred half a century
    ago. He later dug up his old papers and consulted a letter that he had
    written to his mother on Sept. 29, 1950, just three days after the
    alleged POW killings. The letter showed, he said, that a machine gunner
    had described to him the capture of about 30 "gooks" by marines, who
    then turned them over to South Korean forces. The enemy soldiers were
    "taken to the swimming pool in the basement" of the hotel, Huebner said,
    citing his letter. He said the machine gunner told him that the
    prisoners were killed by South Korean forces "settling an old score."
    But, he emphasized, he had no direct knowledge of such an atrocity.

    Despite these assumptions, others in Easy and Fox companies say they did
    not see any South Korean forces in that immediate area. After Seoul,
    Lamb and his squad would fight other battles, but he was forever
    changed, he says--his psyche a prisoner of those few moments in hell, in
    the basement of the Bando Hotel.

    Reopening Closed Wounds
    Lamb was honorably discharged in November 1951 for medical reasons. He
    suffered from what physicians at the time called "battle fatigue." The
    doctors diagnosed it this way: "Anxiety reaction, chronic, moderate."
    When he returned home, all he could talk about was the war. "He was a
    completely changed person," says his wife during a telephone interview
    from the couple's other home in Boswell, Pa. "He was very difficult to
    get along with. He'd talk about the bad things he saw, and he'd break
    down." As he roamed the country, bouncing from job to job, town to town,
    she and their two sons and daughter couldn't keep up with him; the Lambs
    separated for a time.

    Lamb kept trying to put it all down on paper, to purge his demons in a
    book. His first version, completed in 1965, was called The Land of the
    Morning Calm. An agent couldn't sell it. In the mid-1970s, he tried
    again, but no publisher wanted the story. In 1999, he paid to publish
    what he says is a purely factual account of his Korean War experiences,
    although he changed many names of combat buddies and called himself
    "Sam." He titled this effort The Last Parade! The book had little
    impact, but Lamb pushed on. In March 2001, he sent a letter to the
    Defense Department demanding an investigation. In July, the then Marine
    Corps inspector general, Maj. Gen. Paul Lee, opened a "preliminary"
    inquiry, giving Lamb hope. However, last February, the inspector
    general's office informed him that it couldn't "substantiate" his
    allegations after an "exhaustive inquiry."

    But how exhaustive was it?

    The investigative files, obtained after Freedom of Information Act
    requests, indicate that the inspector general's staff interviewed only
    two marines from Easy Company. The 200-or-so-member unit fought inside
    the Bando Hotel and on the streets in that area, and some might have had
    direct knowledge of the alleged POW killings. Most of the marines
    interviewed were with Fox Company and were only able to validate Lamb's
    actions that day. Some confirmed Lamb's assertion that he had had a
    heated argument with a superior officer after leaving a hotel, but they
    had not been inside the building themselves, they said, and had no
    direct knowledge of any POW killings.

    The Marine Corps investigators failed to pursue a critical piece of
    evidence: the after-action report for Easy Company, written on Feb. 15,
    1951. The 10-page report covered combat operations that began with the
    Sept. 15, 1950, landing at Inchon and included later fighting in Seoul.
    It was based on the recollections of eight Easy Company marines and was
    written by a captain, Kenneth A. Shutts. The report contains this
    question: "How long did it take you to go through Seoul?" The detailed
    response includes this damaging statement on Page 4: "The killing of
    prisoners is something that should be watched. We had some of that going

    on." The inspector general's staff, the Marine Corps says, made no
    attempt to determine if the eight men were alive or dead. U.S. News was
    unable to locate any of them but found evidence indicating that several
    are now dead, among them a staff sergeant named William G. Ferrigno.

    "A toilsome chore." It turns out that Ferrigno was also a defense
    witness in a court-martial case that could be relevant to the Bando
    Hotel allegations. A machine gun squad leader under Ferrigno was accused
    of murdering a South Korean military translator; witnesses said he shot
    the man, at point-blank range, with a .45-caliber revolver, while
    bivouacked outside Masan, Korea. But there was other startling testimony
    in the case that had nothing to do with the translator's killing. It
    came from Staff Sgt. Robert P. Cornely, a close friend of the accused.
    "Well, in Seoul," Cornely admitted on April 12, 1951, his friend "did
    kill some prisoners," the court-martial files show. But, there was no
    mention of the Bando Hotel in the court case, and the circumstances of
    the killings described by Cornely were not detailed. Cornely died
    several years ago.

    The accused developed a deep hatred of Asians after being held for more
    than three years in Japanese prison camps run by both Japanese and
    Korean guards during World War II, according to witnesses. He was
    beaten, saw fellow POWs murdered, and weighed 110 pounds when he was
    liberated in 1945.

    The man, now 81, lives in the Northeast and declined repeated phone
    requests to be interviewed for this story. He also did not respond to
    two letters written by U.S. News. He was convicted of killing the
    translator but later acquitted in a second court-martial, after claiming
    temporary insanity. There is no indication that he was interviewed by
    the Marine Corps investigators assigned to review Lamb's allegations.
    The investigators also paid little heed to information provided by
    Charles Garabedian, the Easy Company marine who says he heard a marine
    admit to killing POWs inside a hotel. According to the inspector
    general's report, Garabedian's account was discounted as being about a
    separate incident from the one described by Lamb, noting that "he
    [Garabedian] couldn't remember a name, didn't see it take place, and
    didn't see the aftermath."

    The investigators were skeptical of Lamb and tended to discount his
    allegations by noting discrepancies in the sort of details that fade
    with time. Lamb, for instance, thought the name of the hotel was
    possibly the Chosun. Investigators also noted that the Bando did not
    have a "swimming pool," the term Lamb first used to describe the
    location of the dead bodies. Lamb's use of the term continued to trouble
    them, even after they learned from two former marines assigned to the
    embassy, which was located on the fifth floor of the hotel, that there
    were Japanese baths in the basement.

    The investigators also wrote that Lamb's mental health was in question
    following the battle for Seoul. During that time, they said, a military
    physician diagnosed him as paranoid after he threatened to tell the
    secret of the POW killings. But the investigators, their files show,
    failed to note that when he was evaluated at Bethesda Naval Hospital a
    short time later in 1951, a doctor called the diagnosis an error,
    saying, "No paranoid ideation was evidenced at any time."

    Their findings leave no doubt that events were difficult to
    reconstruct--"a toilsome chore" is the way the investigators described
    it. "Potential witnesses proved difficult to locate," they wrote. "Those
    who were located demonstrated that the passage of time takes a costly
    toll on one's faculties and memory." The report described how one
    witness "fell ill prior to interview" and how another "suffered seizures
    during interview."


  5. #5
    Asked by U.S. News to grant an interview and explain the inquiry more
    fully, the inspector general's office declined but answered many
    specific questions through a Marine Corps spokesman, Maj. Douglas
    Powell. Noting that the after-action report covered several battles in a
    four-month period, Powell says that the "unspecific comments" about Easy
    Company marines' killing prisoners "were not determined to be within the
    scope of the investigation and not pursued." He adds, "The investigation
    speaks for itself."

    Lamb is disappointed with the findings but makes no apologies for his
    own fight. Why, he is asked, has he persisted so long, when others would
    have buried the past? Sounding much like the drill instructor he once
    was, Lamb puts it this way: "Right is right, and wrong is wrong. The
    Marine Corps hymn says first to fight for right and freedom and to keep
    our honor clean."

    "How are you going to keep your honor clean," he asks, "if you bury such
    a horrible thing?"



Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not Create Posts
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts