For those Marines here w/o memories dating back to the Korean War, here is the story of Col Schwable, from the VMF(N)513 webpage...
At the height of the Chinese allegations of the 3rd Bomb Wing at Kunsan dropping bacteriological weapons on North Korea and China, another flyer "confessed" to this crime. This time it was a Marine Colonel who accused the VMF(N)-513 of also participating in bacteriological warfare. His "confession" and another's were distributed by the Communists to U.N. delegates in February 1953.
What makes this a truely tragic tale is that Colonel Schwable was considered one of the "fathers of Marine nightfighting." He had trained with the RAF in 1943 and was the Commanding Officer of the first night fighter squadron, the VMF(N)-531 flying PV-1s out of Guadalcanal. At Guadacanal Schwable and his gunner shot down four planes. The kill is split .5 and.5, so in the record books each will show two kills. Remember they were flying PV-1s which had a top turret and crew of three.
In the bookIn Mortal Combat - Korea, 1950-1953by John Toland (pp551-552) it states, "Among the prisoners spending a most miserable Christmas holiday were two Marine officers: Colonel Frank Schwable, chief of staff of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and Major Roy Bley, ordnance officer of the wing. In July, they had been inadvertently flown over enemy lines on an administrative flight in a Beechcraft and were hit by fighters. Their motor quit and they parachuted to safety." Col. Schwable was captured by North Korea on July 8, 1952.
The book continues, "The Chinese knew they had captured a prize because Schwable, a veteran of sixty-five night missions in World War II and winner of four distinguished Flying Crosses, was in uniform and carried his armed services identification card, a Virginia driver's license, a flight instrument ticket, pictures of his family, and a copy of his flight plan. For months he was kept in solitary confinement in a filthy lean-to under the eaves of a Korean house. The forty-four-year-old Schwable was harried, accused of being a war criminal, fed little, denied proper latrine privileges, refused medical attention, and subjected to extremes of heat and cold. Except for a "two-week thinking period," he was intensely interrogated, although he was never beaten. Finally, at the end of December, after intimidation and dire threats, the senior UN prisoner after General Dean finally submitted a confession that suited the Communists."
"In making my most difficult decision to seek the only way out," Schwable later wrote, "my primary consideration was that I would be of greater value to my country in exposing this hideous means of slanderous propaganda than I would be by sacrificing my life through non-submission or remaining a prisoner of the Chinese Communists for life, a matter over which they left me no doubt."
Major Bley also finally crumbled under the strain of even more intense treatment. Colonel Schwable signed the "confession" on either January 21, 1953 or December 6, 1952; and broadcast his "confession" to the world in February 1953. He was photographed reading the final copy. The book continues, "His confession cleverly combined battle data and technical-sounding terminology that gave it authenticity. ... Together with Bley's confession, it was a masterly coup for the Communists, since the General Assembly of the United Nations was scheduled to reconvene two days later; these two important confessions were then circulated among the delegates."
Steamshovel, a magazine specializing in sensationalism, has a webpage with the coerced confession ofColonel Frank H. Schwable. It states that he was "a US pilot captured by the Koreans during the Korean War who confessed to his role in a bacteriological warfare project that utilized populations of germ-infested flies and mosquitos dropped on the enemy in bombs, replete with miniature parachutes." The site goes on to offer a disclaimer: "The story has another angle, however. It might have been coerced from Schwable under Korean brainwashing torture. Other airman captured during the Korean War claimed that similar "confessions" were forced from them."
In his statement, he alleges that the biological attacks were carried out in secrecy by the Marine VMF(N)-513 from Kunsan (K-8)...but that the 3d BW "B-26s had already begun bacteriological operations." He alleged, "Towards the end of January 1952, Marine night fighters of Squadron 513, operating as single planes on night armed reconnaissance, and carrying bacteriological bombs, shared targets with the B-26s covering the lower half of North Korea with the greatest emphasis on the western portion. Squadron 513 coordinated with the Third Bomb Wing on all these missions, using F7F aircraft (Tiger Cats) because of their twin engine safety. K8 (Kunsan) offered the advantage of take-off directly over the water, in the event of engine failure, and both the safety and security of over-water flights to enemy territory. For security reasons, no information on the types of bacteria being used was given to the First Marine Aircraft Wing."
It goes on to allege that commanders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- all the way down the chain -- were verbally ordered to conduct these missions to spread cholera, yellow-fever and typhus -- and unbelievably no one raised their voice in protest. That's why this "confession" is easily discounted. Another reason to doubt this "confession" is that the VMF(N)-513 did not arrive at Kunsan until April 1952 (or later) -- though the bombing was alleged to have started in January 1952 by the VMF(N)-513 from Kunsan. In addition, it should also be noted that the VMF(N)-513s F7Fs were committed at the time to providing night air cover for the B-29 Superfortress starting in July 1952 -- and continued this mission throughout the summer of 1952. It is highly improbable that they could have done these "secret" missions in addition to its night air cover role. And to drop "germ-infested flies and mosquitoes" during the frigid Korean winter months is lunacy.
Other high-ranking POWs also confessed to these "crimes", including Col. Walker "Bud" Mahurin, USAF World War II ace. These individuals found their military careers ended when they returned to the states. As to Schwable, he was not disciplined upon return and he was restored to duty. However, his career was through. Anti-American activists in Korea and other parts of the world have used these types of "confessions" -- along with the Chinese "scientific proof" -- to keep this issue alive today."
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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