Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2001

A view from the U.S. Defense Department

January 3, 2001

Officials at the Department of Defense confirmed they are working to locate the burial site of Maj. Eugene Posa.

Carol Docham, senior Cold War analyst for the POW/Missing Personnel Office, which is an agency of the Department of Defense, said workers on the case are hoping to get a break.

"We've had interviews done by Russian newspapers and it's supposed to be on TV," Docham said.

"I really hope that someone will see this, and maybe we'll get a break."

Since 1992, when a joint United States/Russian commission was formed, the United States has been looking for the burial site of Eugene Posa, one of three crewmen missing from the July 1960 bombing of a U.S. Air Force jet near Russia.

"In November 1992, the Russians handed over a document from October 1960," Docham said.

Apparently, the document had been a report from the KGB director at that time to Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev, and it mentioned that a body identified as Posa had been retrieved from a Russian fishing trawler. The document included a summary of the autopsy report.

"The body was fairly intact, but missing a right hand and having a fractured jaw," Docham said.

From there, the fate of Posa's body becomes murkier.

"We really don't know what happened to it," Docham said. "But we think it was taken to a military hospital and autopsied. I've been assured by the Russians that since the body was fairly intact they would indeed have buried it."

In July 1998, a team went to a foreign cemetery in Russia and exhumed two graves, Docham said.

"We determined that Major Posa was not in either grave. We were going largely on the documents the missing right hand and a fractured jaw."

Since then, Docham said, with the assistance of a retired Russian admiral who's conducting research in the Russian central archives near St. Petersburg, the search continues.

"He has talked to people from the special section of the northern fleet," Docham said. "One of them actually did escort the body, but evidently, he wasn't able to recall what happened to the body after it left his custody."

It's imperative to continue pushing, in Docham's opinion.

"So many of the witnesses are getting old," she said.

But she noted that while the commanders were generally older men, the people who would have dug the grave were most likely lower-ranking, and younger, men.

Therefore, her department decided to make an appeal on television.

"I hope that someone will see this and maybe we'll get a break on this," she added.

And, she noted, the research would continue, and that the Russians are cooperating.

"We have a team stationed permanently in Moscow that does exclusively this kind of work interviews, archival work and setting up site excavations," Docham said.

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