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Seoul, Korea, 1950: Cover-up?

December 21 2003 at 9:26 AM
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Dick Gaines  (Login Dick Gaines)
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The following is an e-mail to me from Mr. Longabardi in response to my request for information regarding his article(s) on this subject,

Re: USMC War Crimes...

Mr Gaines,

Thanks for your interest.

The story is about a 'war crime' incident in Seoul in late Sept of 1950.

... the entire original story published on Nov 3rd 2003 in US News and World Report can be viewed
in the forum section of Marine Corps Times.


I just wrote a guest column for "DefenseWatch" about the story also.

The direct link to my Defensewatch article:


Also the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) did a very good follow-up story and and editorial calling for a Congressional investigation of the case.

The first article is below for your reference.

I will try and pass along any/all new info .. please do get the word out about this story.


Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers
Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)

October 30, 2003, Thursday
Correction Appended
SECTION: News; Pg. P1A
LENGTH: 1369 words
HEADLINE: After 53 years, Korea vet's story told to nation, U.S. News recounts alleged Marine atrocity
BYLINE: Chris Wetterich

WINFIELD - Korean War veteran Carl Lamb has been trying to tell his story for more than 50 years.
The story of how Lamb found a swimming pool full of dead North Korean prisoners of war in a Seoul hotel - men he believes were murdered by U.S. soldiers in the first year of the war - is being told nationally for the first time in the current issue of the magazine U.S. News & World Report.
The 5,000-word dispatch, spearheaded by award-winning investigative reporter Eric Longabardi, details how Lamb discovered the POWs and tried to get justice from the Marine Corps for their deaths, and how Lamb and U.S. News were thwarted by military investigators while trying to make the story public.
To this day, the military has not made the investigation public, talked about the results or even announced its existence.
The U.S. News article tells how Lamb grew up poor in Arkansas, joined the Marine Corps at 16, became a sergeant, left the Corps shortly after the war and spent most of his life wandering across the country, doing odd jobs along the way while he tried to publish a book about the incident. Finally, Lamb ended up splitting his time between a West Virginia mobile home and a Pennsylvania house where his wife lives.
Lamb discovered the pile of naked, bullet-riddled bodies in a Seoul hotel's basement pool during a bloody 1950 street battle for the South Korean capital city. He did not witness the killings, but they have haunted him for more than half a century.
The memory is so awful, Lamb paid to publish a book about it in 1999 titled "The Last Parade!" which is available by mail order from any bookstore.
"I wrote the book to try to cleanse my memories of the Korean War," he said Wednesday outside his spartan mobile home on a hill overlooking the Kanawha River.
Lamb is at least 6 feet tall, a burly man with a head full of gray hair and a full gray beard. He sports a bright-orange sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, their newness accentuated by the tag still stuck to the left pant leg.
The trailer is a mess. Clothes are scattered everywhere. A chair and couch that surround a coffee table are covered with debris. A tan blazer, brown striped tie and blue shirt hang near the front door.
Propped up against the wall is a dented car door Lamb said he intends to fix and re-fasten onto one of the Lincoln Town cars that sit outside. A holstered pistol sits on the coffee table in the living room.
Longabardi, who first met Lamb two years ago, quips that it is Lamb's "bachelor's pad." The house where his wife lives in Pennsylvania is kept up and respectable, Lamb said.
To look at the place, Lamb is obviously eccentric. Reporters get pitched stories every day from people who have an agenda and seem overly vehement about getting it told. But Longabardi said he trusted Lamb because the vet admitted he didn't know everything about what happened that September 1950 day in Korea.
"When you're dealing with a source for a story, you have to go on instinct," said Longabardi, interviewed by phone Wednesday from his home in Los Angeles. "Usually, guys will make grandiose claims. He stuck straight to his story that he's been telling for 53 years. He knew he couldn't prove it. He knew he had to find somebody who could. All he saw was an aftermath of dead bodies."
One document convinced Longabardi that Lamb was credible: A mental health report Lamb kept that was made before his discharge from the Corps in November 1951. The report declares Lamb suffered from "battle fatigue" but notes his anger about the massacre. That proved that Lamb wasn't just a loner making up a story to get attention, Longabardi said.
Indeed, Lamb retells his story calmly and meticulously. He ticks off dates and times. He remembers vividly the reaction his captain had to his outrage over the bodies.
"He called me a son-of-a-bitch. He thought it was an inadequacy on my part that I was upset at the murders," Lamb said.
Longabardi has been a television producer and investigative journalist for 13 years, working for the past five years as an independent producer. He finds the stories, digs them up and is hired to produce and report them. In this case, television news was not interested so he brought the story to the editors at U.S. News & World Report.
The journalist started a two-year struggle to round up information about the incidents. Longabardi knew he'd need documents, military reports and firsthand accounts from other marines who had been in Seoul on that day.
The interviews and documents corroborated Lamb's story about being upset about the incident and go further to include quotations from a marine who also remembers hearing gunshots in the hotel after seeing POWs being dragged into it.
Longabardi began the investigation in August 2001 working with CBS News' Pentagon correspondent, David Martin. They had planned to do the story in only a few weeks. When it became evident that they could not gather the necessary materials quickly because of Pentagon foot-dragging, CBS dropped the story. Longabardi continued to work on it through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
CBS, Martin and Longabardi first got a whiff of the story when Lamb contacted them in August 2001.
Lamb had sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld detailing the massacre in 2001. He got a letter back from the Marine Corps inspector general asking for all material documents and proof Lamb had that the incident occurred.
Lamb sent them documents but the preliminary investigation didn't start until CBS started sniffing around the story, Longabardi said. Once the Pentagon found out that CBS had dropped the story, the investigation seemed to slow and Marine Corps investigators didn't interview Lamb until months later when he sent them another letter.
Longabardi and Lamb are convinced the Pentagon wanted to make sure the story never saw the light of day.
"They were successful in stonewalling us," Longabardi said. "They did some definitive active things to thwart my investigation."
Longabardi points to several actions by the Marines that they say show an attempt to bury the story:
s Longabardi could not get the "smoking gun," an after action report containing statements from Marine officers and enlisted men that refers to the killing of enemy prisoners, until the Pentagon had concluded its investigation in April 2002. Employees at the Marine archives in Washington told him the Corps had ordered the information withheld.
"The killing of prisoners is something that should be watched," the report said. "We had some of that going on."
s Investigators from the Marine Inspector General's office interviewed Lamb once. The first time they interviewed him, Lamb taped it. When they requested a second interview, Lamb again told them he would record it. They refused to do the interview. Longabardi was still actively tracking the investigation through Lamb.
s The U.S. News article also details how military investigators interviewed only a handful of the remaining marines believed to have been in Seoul near the hotel that day. Lamb told investigators that he believes men from Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were responsible. The investigators talked to two men from that unit.
"How the hell do you do an investigation if you only talk to two people?" Lamb said.
The Marines were to open a full-blown investigation if they found enough evidence. In February 2003, the Marine Corps closed its preliminary investigation and declined to ask for a full-blown investigation from homicide investigators in the Navy.
They told U.S. News that the investigation was thorough and that there wasn't enough evidence of a war crime to warrant further proceedings. Longabardi said the U.S. News article shows there is plenty.
Lamb said he will keep telling the story and making his case.
"I warned them that if they attempted to whitewash this, I would fight to make sure this story was told until hell froze over," Lamb said. "I want them to see them admit that a war crime occurred."
To contact Chris Wetterich, use e-mail or call 348-3023.
CORRECTION-DATE: October 31, 2003, Friday
In Wednesday's story about Korean War veteran Carl Lamb's efforts to get his allegations about war crimes heard, the Gazette incorrectly stated that the Marine Corps investigation of the incident ended in February 2003. The investigation actually ended in February 2002.
LOAD-DATE: October 30, 2003

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Dick Gaines
(Login Dick Gaines)

Response: Jim Baxter...

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December 21 2003, 10:45 AM 

and regarding this topic, I received the following from Jim Baxter on my query to him as to whether he knew anything of this...and he has given me permission to also post his response here...
YEA, Dick. Yes, I am very familiar with the whole situation. Carl "Sam" Lamb was a fellow-squad leader with me in the 2nd Plt. Fox from Pendleton to Inchon and beyond. Although I was wounded on Mapo Blvd. in downtown Seoul the day before the "pool" incident, when I returned from the naval hospital in Japan 3 months later my squad filled me in on all they knew about the killings. Sam and I were more incensed than anyone there because we knew how it would reflect on the Corps and Marines into the future and make our job more difficult. My greatest contribution has been to validate the character of Sam as the most moral and physically courageous Marine I ever served with in WW II and/or Korea! The leadership there was juvenile and without an ethical foundation: essential when leading free civilized men into deadly combat. The moral high-ground is necessary for Americans to be willing to risk it all. Such shoddy on-going behavior undercuts that fundamental requirement and obligation to our Country and its values. It is no less an act of treason. Longabardi has performed a remarkable service in behalf of all we Marines hold to be true of Honor and purpose. Sam's book, The Last Parade, is a marvel of recorded combat up-close and is located at its own website, http//www.thelastparade.com/ Longabardi is still trying to get the Corps to do its duty in the face of a distorted sense of "protective" loyalty. It is simply further evidence and a mute confession that true leadership is still lacking in the official U.S. Marine Corps and needs to be addressed for the service of all future Marines -- and with all due respect for Marines of the past. I am in touch with Sam by e-mail, US Mail, and phone. If you wish to contact him let me know. Thanks for the enquiry. Best regards, Jim "Always..."
P.S. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


"Human Defined: Earth's Choicemaker"

Over the years Jim Baxter has provided several of the stories on my Marine Vignettes--Tales Of The Corps...The following is from my Short Rounds webpage, and I have seen it also on numerous other pages around the 'Net...

Opinion Vs. Knowledge
By Jim Baxter
Sgt USMC- WWII and Korea
There are only two groups of people who know U.S. Marines:
1. U.S. Marines, and
2. The enemy
Everybody else has a second-hand opinion.
Semper Fidelis Always Faithful

This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address on Dec 21, 2003 11:02 AM

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Dick Gaines
(Login Dick Gaines)

Re: Seoul, Korea, 1950: Cover-up?

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December 21 2003, 1:04 PM 

Here's another piece of writing by Jim Baxter dated feb02 from my Tales of The Corps pages...
#157 Book Review by Jim Baxter: The Last Parade
by Dick G (Login Dick Gaines)
Forum Owner

Book Review: The Last Parade
by Carl V. "Sam" Lamb

Review by JAMES BAXTER - A Comrade in Arms
Dear Sam:

I'll take a little time now to talk about your wonderful contribution to Literature and History! No joke - it's a great book! I do not have a single criticism. Obviously, everybody out there had a slightly different view from where they were - even people side-by-side still often have a different perspective, etc.

But, your book could well become a Korean War Classic. I've read a few on the subject of Korea, but none have the breadth and depth of your treatise. It would make a great multi-part TV series - or a movie script. But, we'll see - its future may surprise even you, Sam.

Your attention to idealism, respect for the lives of prisoners, the regard for the values of the American Way, etc. is a value lacking in most Korean War stories, or other war stories in general. But, it is the fundamental, often unspoken, reason men are willing to go through the hell of war and the risk of life and limb. You said it for me, Sam Lamb.

I regret that you were not present [apparently] when I confronted Casey when he said he was going over and "kick the **** out of Goggins." It would have strengthened your case for our values as Humans, Christians, Americans, Marines, etc., if it were a part of your experiences in the book.

I told Big Jim, " If you're going to try that, you'll have to go through me to get to him. I may lose, but I guarantee you, I will make it very expensive for you to get to him. I'm willing to give my life for a Country that values each individual - if that isn't true, I don't want to fight for that Country - but, it is true, so I am willing to risk it all. I'm not going to let you rob me of the very good reason I may lose my life tomorrow or next week. You become my enemy. Let me know what you decide."

He got up from our card game and said, "I'll have to think about it." I said, "Let me know. I'll be here." He came back a little later and said, "You're right. I was wrong." I thanked him for his manliness. [He had previously talked about driving through New Orleans as a police officer and leaning out to hit a black man in the head and laughing as he spun into the street.]

Later, he told me I had changed his life. And, later, Joe came to me privately and thanked me. I said, " Joe, it's the reason we are all out here doing this dirty work. We can't allow anyone to make Our Side like the enemy and his ways. And, you are worthy." He shook my hand with wet eyes.

It would have been a good support in the book for your stated and repeated position on prisoners, etc. Idealism is very very practical in the very real world. I recall that the Company that killed all those prisoners in the swimming pool in the hotel in downtown Seoul had more casualties than any other Company in our Battalion...or the Regiment.

I vaguely recall your reference to being on liberty in Masan and my correcting Vale regarding his mistreatment of the local natives. The one incident I remember even more was the time Casey and I went into town to drink beer and eat peanuts - we were walking down the street when out in front of us we saw a Marine go up behind a native gook who was carrying a flat basket of several large fish on his head.

The Marine grabbed one and started beating the gook with the fish. I grabbed the Marine and threw him to the ground. He jumped up and he and I went at it for a couple of minutes. He yelled at me that he was angry because he lost a lot of buddies over here. Where was I when they were fighting alone at the Perimeter.

I said, "Where were you during WW II?" "It's idiots like you that will cause my [future] sons to have to come back here again in 20 years and do it all over again." He was drunk and crying. I tossed him into a curb and beckoned a passing weapons carrier to take him back to camp. They did.

Casey said, "Why didn't you flatten him?" I said, he's not my enemy - He just needs correction. [More idealism that would have fit well in your book; wish you had been present and had that experience for your book.]

In the book, you had me leaving for home before Vale was killed: Sorry, I was still there. He stacked 'em up with his BAR that night on the nose of that hill. Those Chinese troops were all wearing skirts of grenades...remember? I know he was recommended for the Silver Star...did his family ever get it? He was from New Mexico is all I knew.

When we were on our way from Kobe to Inchon, Malen came to me and said he had put me in for Sgt. stripes, but they wouldn't allow it because I had a different spec. number. He said, "What was that?" I told him my last assignment in the Corps in '45 was Intelligence. He asked who I would recommend. I said, "Give it to John Carpenter. He's a good man, a career Marine." He was my buddy; the best friend I made when we reported to Fox 1st at Pendleton. He didn't live long enough to get it. [Do you remember the speech Chesty made to us - standing on a jeep?]

Sam, yes, I do remember several shots I made from a kneeling position - perhaps, up to 500 yards. But, the one I really remember was the second or third day: We had raced over three hills in a row. The whole second battalion was strung out in a skirmish line from the Inchon-Seoul Highway on the left to the top of high ground on the right. Our platoon was on the extreme right with only our machine gunners on our right. We reached the crest of the fourth hill and everyone flopped on their faces, worn out!

I knew someone had to sit up and watch. A valley extended out in front of us with a flat-topped hill in the distance. I noticed what appeared to be a stick - no other shape - on top of the hill. It did not move. I asked the machine gunners to put their glasses on it. They looked and started yelling, "It's a gook! It's a gook! Get 'em! Get 'em!" I swung my rifle [M-1] up and put the front blade on the stick, raised it slowly until I couldn't see the "stick" and squeezed it off.

I dropped my piece and looked. Wham! It was a man, hit in the stomach, - he came tumbling down the hill! The whole battalion let out a roar like I had kicked a field goal against Notre Dame! All that, after they had spent the morning killing many North Koreans! The machine gunners said their range-finder glasses put that target at OVER a thousand yards! Yikes! I never made such a shot in my whole life. They thought he may have been a Russian advisor...Who knows?

The night we finished the fight in Yong Dong Po, there was 'a word' out that Graff had killed a prisoner that evening. I don't know. It may have been true. The thing I didn't like about the Captain was his little card-board shack with the young Korean girl - all in a combat area. I thought he was a pretty fair field officer in combat, but his morals/ethics and example left much to be desired. I never heard him rant and rave. He was usually pretty quiet when I was around him. But, I tended to avoid officers. Most were a pain in the rear and not always knowledgeable - and often ignorantly put men at risk unnecessarily.

I was surprised you did not mention the field kitchen that was brought to us by General Lowe [Truman's Military aide] over- looking Hoengsong while we waited for the ROKs to clear on our left flank. Stepped into the galley-tent, turkey, mashed-potatoes, gravy, peas, corn, pie, etc. Stepped out of the tent: Frozen. Good try!!! HA!!!

Sam, I think you were the only one I said good-bye to. And, I was happy to leave the .45 with you, but, you gave me $25 bucks for it! Remember? Four books that I have about the Korean War are excellent. Perhaps you can locate them through a local library. I highly recommend them. They are as follows:

1. U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950-1953 Volume II The Inchon-Seoul Operation by Lynn Montross & Captain Nicholas A. Canzona, USMC

2. U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950-1953 Volume IV The East-Central Front by Lynn Montross, Major Hubard D. Kuokka, USMC, and Major Norman W. Hicks, USMC [Also, there is a Volume 1 regarding The Pusan Perimeter, Vol. 3 regarding the Chosin Reservoir Campaign and a Volume 5 regarding the Operations in Western Korea.

3. Victory at High Tide; The Inchon-Seoul Campaign by Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., Colonel, USMC

4. The New Breed: The Story of the U.S. Marines in Korea by Andrew Geer

These are excellent resources and wonderful texts to leave with your children.

After your book (The Last Parade) comes out this Spring, I'm sure I'll have more to say. More in the way of reminders - not criticism. You have done very well without any additional input. As usual, my friend, I'm very proud of you.

God bless.

Straight ahead, squad leader.

GySgt USMC (Ret.)

Posted on Feb 22, 2002, 7:57 AM
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