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...
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
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
Posted on Dec 21, 2003, 8:37 AM
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