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Excavating the Hopper Crashsite:  Another Pillar of the Myth Crumbles

The following is an excerpt from an article that I lifted directly from the CNN website on December 31, 1998. This article is important because it describes the excavation of the crashsite of USAF Captain Earl Hopper, Jr. -- and comments in the article indicate that bone fragments have been recovered.  And why is this important?  First, because the claim that Hopper ejected from the aircraft and was captured has been one of the articles of faith of the MIA "activists" for over a decade now. And second, because evidence uncovered in the excavation of the Hopper crash site likely will prove that he died in the crash, thereby bringing to an end another MIA myth.

For a detailed review of the Hopper case, read this article.   Briefly, CPT Hopper's father, retired US Army Reserve Colonel Earl Hopper, Sr. has claimed for years that his son bailed out of the aircraft.  Hopper, Sr., claims that his son's emergency beeper was heard and tracked and that a CIA search team was inserted into the area of the loss where they found Hopper, Jr.'s beeper hanging in a tree still beeping.  Hopper, Sr. continues to claim that his son was captured and never released.  It's all nonsense. 

On, December 31, 1998, CNN ran an article describing field work being done in Vietnam by US search teams.  Check out these two quotes from the search team excavating a crash site in North Vietnam:

bulletQUOTE  The team was searching for the remains of a U.S. Air Force navigator Earl Hopper, who has been listed as an MIA since his plane went down in the area in 1968. END QUOTE 
bulletQUOTE 
bullet"We're looking for small fragments of bone," said forensic anthropologist William Belcher. "When you have a plane hitting the ground at 500 mph, the bone fragments are the size of a nickel or a penny."
bulletThe searchers have shipped the few fragments they have discovered near the site to a U.S. Army lab in Hawaii for further study. END QUOTE

So it comes down to this.  For years the Earl Hopper story has been used by the MIA activist cult as "proof" that US MIAs were abandoned in Vietnam.   Hopper, Sr.'s groundless claims have been quoted and cited and re-quoted and re-cited to the point that the story has become virtual gospel.  Now, however, the crash site has been located and bone fragments have been recovered.  Eventually these fragments will be identified and I guarantee they will be Hopper, Jr.  Then what happens to the tale of emergency beepers, CIA teams, and abandoned POWs?  Will Hopper, Sr. admit publicly that he has been feeding the public a line of crap for these many years?  Will all the internet websites that repeat Hopper, Sr.'s claims revise their stories to reflect that fact the Hopper, Jr. never got out of the aircraft?   Don't count on it.

The quoted portion of the CNN article starts here.  (Note:  Disregard the links in the article. They do not work on this page.)

Begin quote of article copied directly from the CNN website, cnn.com, on December 31, 1998.  Quoted portion is italicized.

U.S. troops return to Vietnam to look for MIAs

December 31, 1998
Web posted at: 12:27 p.m. EST (1727 GMT)

In this story:

bulletFragments of bone
bulletVietnamese aid searchers
bulletPutting ghosts to rest
bulletRelated stories and sites

SON LA PROVINCE, Vietnam (CNN) -- About a quarter century after American combat troops pulled out of Vietnam, a new generation of U.S. servicemen is returning to the country. Their mission is to search for the remains of 1,500 Americans still listed as missing in action.

The helicopters the U.S. teams are using are Soviet-made and the pilots are Vietnamese army veterans.

One recent mission took a search team to Son La province, near the Laotian border, where they were greeted by hilltribes who had not seen an American since the war ended.

The team was searching for the remains of a U.S. Air Force navigator Earl Hopper, who has been listed as an MIA since his plane went down in the area in 1968.

Fragments of bone

 

Pilot Keith Hall ejected from the flaming aircraft, was captured and finally sent home in 1973.

"I was on fire and burning badly and my throttle completely froze up. We didn't have much we could do and it was time to leave the airplane," said Hall, who retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force.

"The most difficult part for me is not knowing what happened with Earl. I'll perhaps never know," added Hall, who did not accompany the search team to Vietnam.

After locating the crash site on a jungle-covered mountain, the team of military personnel and anthropologists made the grueling trip from its camp each day to conduct the painstaking search.

"We're looking for small fragments of bone," said forensic anthropologist William Belcher. "When you have a plane hitting the ground at 500 mph, the bone fragments are the size of a nickel or a penny."

The searchers have shipped the few fragments they have discovered near the site to a U.S. Army lab in Hawaii for further study.

(This part of the text was snipped for brevity.)

Correspondent Mike Chinoy contributed to this report.

End quote of article copied directly from the CNN website, cnn.com, on December 31, 1998.

Note:  The CNN article was published on December 31, 1998 at this URL:  http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9812/31/viet.mia/
Do not know how long it will be available.

A Larger Story:  Crumbling Pillars

Beyond the fact that CPT Earl Hopper, Jr. is now coming home at last, there is a much larger story here.  The MIA activist claim that missing Americans were abandoned in captivity in Southeast Asia is based on both general and specific claims -- claims that, over the years, have collapsed under the weight of fact.  the whole thing is held up buy crumbling pillars,and another pillar just fell.

bulletLive-sighting reports are cited as proving that US POWs remain alive in SEAsia.   Not so;.  see this article.
bulletClaims by such as Mark Smith (Major, US Army, Retired) and James "Bo" Gritz (LTC, US Army, Retired) are cited as proof.  Not so; see this article and this article.
bulletThe reports from convicted collaborator former USMC Private Robert Garwood are supposed to offer proof.  Not true.  Start here for the Garwood story or read this article for Garwood's bogus claims.
bulletThe "Russian 1205 document" and the "Russian 41 list" are supposed to be positive proof.  They are bogus.  Check out this article and this one.
bulletThere are several loss incidents in which Americans were missing that are cited as proof that US POWs were not released at Operation Homecoming or were shipped off to third countries.  None of the stories surrounding these incidents is true.
bulletThe "Baron 52" loss supposedly proves that USAF signal intelligence specialists were taken to Russia.  Actually, they died in the shoot-down of their aircraft.  Read it here.
bulletTwo Marines, Fred Schreckengost and Robert Greer were captured and executed yet their story was the origin of a huge mythology that even claimed that these two men were secretly returned to the US and given new identities.  Their remains were recovered from the hole where their captors had thrown them.  Read it here.
bulletThe death in captivity of US Army Sergeant James Ray is misrepresented.  Here is the real story.
bulletThe loss of US Navy commander James Hubbs is a favorite of the MIA cult but the facts are the Hubbs died in his loss incident.
bulletUS government information is misrepresented in an attempt to prove that missing men are still alive.
bulletAnalytic categories of missing men are claimed to be proof that the US government knew of live POWs not returned.  Not so; here are the facts.
bulletReturned POWs were debriefed as the their knowledge of men who did not return.   Their answers are misrepresented.  Here are the facts.
bulletThere are claims that no men returned who had disfiguring injuries or other serious injuries or conditions.  This "fact" is supposed to prove that the Vietnamese did not release men with burns, disfiguring injuries, or who had become insane.   The facts tell a different story.
bulletThere is even a claim that the actual number of missing men is twice the number the the US government indicates.  Nonsense.
bulletClaims that satellite imagery has shown distress symbols left by US POWs as late as the early 1990s are presented as fact by folks who know absolutely nothing about imagery analysis.  Read the facts here.

And on and on and on.  So what is the big story?  This:  Every single item that is  used to support claims of abandoned men, cover-up, and conspiracy has, in the end, been shown to be without merit.  One by one, the "evidence," the "proof," the "smoking gun" has been shown to be of no value. 

As with a house of cards, the MIA myth is falling down.   First one pillar is pulled out here, another there, then another, and another.   The pillars have been pulled out for years.  Each time a crash site is excavated, one more pillar is pulled from the pile.  And now, one more of the articles of faith, the loss of CPT Earl Hopper, Jr., is about to come to a close. 

Mercifully, one more family will have their son returned and they will know what happened to him;   the material recovered during the excavation will undoubtedly show that he was not able to get out of the aircraft. 

Is it not time to step back, look at the aggregate of information, look at the final results of every single claim made by the "activists," and realize the truth : All the MIAs are dead.   They died in their loss incident or in captivity.  They were not abandoned, they were not spirited off to Russia as part of a grand scheme, they are not living in Laotian villages with their native women wives and children.  They died the honorable death of soldiers doing their duty to the last.  Their service and sacrifice are dishonored by the continuing drip, drip, drip of nonsense, lies, misrepresentations, and scams. Stop it.

Update:  November 2000

The Hopper crashsite was surveyed and excavated several times.  As a result, human bone fragments and teeth were recovered along with a substantial quantity of crew-related items, proving that Earl Hopper, Jr. was in the aircraft when it crashed.  Read this article for a summary of the crashsite excavation and for a complicated tale that chronicles the lies Hopper's father and his long-time paramour are now telling, not only about Hopper's loss, but also about other losses.  The report of the excavations is reproduced here.

 

 
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