MIA Facts Site

A Word About Sources
for the
MIA Facts Site

Summary.  There is a steady rumor floating around the MIA "activists" circles that my MIA Facts Site is not my own creation, that it is a front for DPMO analysts, that I am "on the DIA payroll," and other nonsense.  Here are the facts.

Not My Work

In late 1998, I picked up a rumor floating around the MIA "activist" networks that the MIA Facts Site is not my work.  Various folks were passing this around and I learned of it through e-mails sent to me from activists, a couple of phone calls, and some claims made on a Vietnam War newsgroup.  Here is what was (is) being said about the MIA Facts Site.

bulletThe site is not Joe Schlatter's work; it is a front for DPMO analysts.  This argument claims that the articles posted on the site are being ghost written by DPMO analysts, that e-mail to me is being funneled to the Pentagon where it is answered by DPMO analysts, etc.
bulletSchlatter has sources within the DPMO who are feeding him sensitive information that is not available to families or anyone else.
bulletSchlatter is on the DIA, CIA, DPMO, "government" (take your pick) payroll.
bulletThe MIA Facts Site is being paid for by the US Government.

The Facts

Considering the fact that the conspiracy nuts are still looking for bombs on JFK Jr.'s airplane, nothing that I say here will convince anyone but here goes.  These are the facts of the MIA Facts Site.

Background

I first got on the Internet in 1994 while I was still on active duty, living in Manassas, VA.  My first browser was Mosaic but I soon discovered the free Netscape and used Netscape for some time.  While browsing around the Internet, I found a number of sites maintained by "MIA activists."  I recognized the stories and claims on those site as being the same sort of bogus crap that I was dealing with in the office every day.  Because I was on active duty, I felt it best to sit down and keep my mouth shut.

I retired in April 1995 and decided to take on the mythology head-to-head by presenting some facts of the MIA issue on the internet.  I did so by posting items to the alt.war.vietnam newsgroup.  In early 1996, I moved to East Tennessee where, between moving and starting a new career, I had little time for the Internet.

By early 1997, I had bought a home and was getting settled.  My local ISP provided a free web site as part of the service and I put up a family site and the original MIA Facts Site.  By late 1997, I decided that I wanted to get my own domains, one for the family site and one for the MIA Facts Site.

It's My Site

In late 1997, I applied to InterNIC to register the domain www.miafacts.org as the MIA Facts Site domain; at the same time, I applied for a family domain, www.schlatter.org.   I registered both domains and I pay $35.00 per year, each, for the registration.

I researched web hosting services and placed both the MIA domain and the family domain on a commercial server.  I pay each of them an annual fee for hosting my domains and my websites.

Sources:  It's My Work -- Except as Noted

This site is not a front for DPMO and neither DPMO analysts nor anyone else writes the material on this site.  The sources of the information on the MIA Facts Site are these.

bulletMy memory.
bulletDocuments and other information obtained through FOIA requests that I submit from time to time.
bulletArticles written by others and reproduced on my site, with acknowledgement  to the source.
bulletArticles that I have clipped from other places on the web, with acknowledgement to the source.

Let me now address each of these in some detail.

My memory

I served from early 1986 through late 1987 as Chief of the Analysis Branch, Defense Intelligence Agency Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs.  I was Chief of the entire office from late 1987 until July 1990.  I then served as Deputy Director, DPMO, from July 1993 until I retired in March 1995.

First, you need to understand that there is a lot of redundancy in the MIA issue.   There are certain stories that surface and resurface then surface again.   Analysts were constantly called on to respond to inquiries from Congress, reporters, families, veterans, and others on the same questions, loss incidents, and claims, over and over.  It takes only a few times of repeating the same answer until one becomes quite familiar with the material.  During my service as chief of the analysis branch, I became familiar with all these matters.

As chief of the DIA Special Office, I testified before Congress; delivered briefings and answered questions for individual Congressmen and their staffs; met with family members, reporters, veterans, and interested citizens.  In every case, I did a lot of preparation by studying files and reports, studying previous testimony and questions, and other preparation.

As a result of this, I can still give from memory the standard presentation that I used so many times.  And I suspect that if I spoke today before a group interested in the MIA issue, the questions would not have changed much. 

Most of the articles on the MIA Facts Site are written from memory -- the articles are the same information that I used to answer questions, to present briefings, and the like.

Documents and material obtained through FOIA requests

In preparing articles for the MIA Facts Site, I found that there were some details on which I was not clear, or there were some documents that I recalled from active duty days that I wanted for my records.  In these cases -- probably a dozen or more -- I submitted a request under the Freedom Of Information Act for the documents to be released to me.

For every FOIA request that I submitted, I got the same treatment as any other citizen.   I received a standard form letter telling me that my request had been received, etc., etc.  Then, as time passed, I would receive responses.  In some cases, I received envelopes full of released documents.  In other cases, I was told to go to the Library of Congress because the material I wanted was there for public access.   There were a few cases in which my request was denied.  I am still debating through the mail with the National Photographic Interpretation Center about some imagery that I want released to me.  I am not likely to get it but it's fun writing letters.

Articles that contain information that I obtained through FOIA requests include those on Garwood's live sightings; the Garwood-Smith July 1993 caper at Thach Ba; the Mateo Sabog case; and Bo Gritz's phony medals.  There are probably others but I just don't recall all of them.

Anyone who wishes to submit a FOIA request for documents relating to anything in the MIA issue is free to do so.  Go to the DPMO web site and check out the FOIA procedures.

Articles written by others

Some of the articles on the MIA Facts Site are written by other folks; I copied the article, contacted the author, and received permission to post the article on the MIA Facts Site.  In each case, I have identified the article as the work of the author and have provided acknowledgement to the author.

Some of the copied articles are:

bulletBob Destatte's analysis of the Baron 52 loss.
bulletWick Tourison's articles on false and misleading reporting and the dog-tag reporting.
bulletLTC Jeannie Schiff's (USAF, Retired) analysis of US losses in Laos and of the effect of overwater losses in skewing the numbers of Lao losses.
bulletThe report done for the ASD/C3I on Garwood (five sections).
bulletThe June 1999 DPMO report "Vietnam's Collection and Repatriation of American Remains."
bulletThere may be others that I do not recall, but, in every case where I copied all or part of someone else's work, I gave them credit.

Articles that I have clipped from other places on the web

Occasionally I find an article or document on the web that I want to place on the MIA Facts Site.   In those cases, I clip the article and post it on the MIA Facts Site with appropriate acknowledgement.  Some examples of copied material are:

bulletThe "Russian 41 list" which was posted to a newsgroup.
bulletA few individual loss reports that I snipped from one or more of the "activist" sites where misinformation is regularly posted.
bulletNews articles, such as the CNN report on the recovery of CPT Earl Hopper, Jr.'s remains.

I  Do Not Seek Special Treatment -- and Do Not Receive Any

Among the rumors and nonsense being spread around the "activist" community is the claim that I am being given sensitive information by various DPMO analysts.  This claim -- and any other claim like it -- is bogus and without merit.   I maintain some limited contact with two people in DPMO, both of whom worked with me for a long time and who are friends.  I talk with them about rumors, people we used to know, and general MIA matters.  I do not ask them for information and they do not give it to me.  I follow this practice for two reasons:

  1. I am now a private citizen and I have no more right to information than any other private citizen.  If I want something, I will go through public affairs or FOIA channels to get it.
  2. I do not want to put my friends on the spot by asking them to do something for me that could not be done for someone else.

On the Payroll

Finally, another part of the rumor is that "Schlatter is on the (DIA, DPMO, CIA, government) payroll."  No, I am not.  I receive the same monthly pension that any other retired colonel with over 28 years of service receives.  I am not on anyone's payroll.

So, What's the Problem?

So, why do the "activists" want to cast doubt on my authenticity?   Simple:  Because they are finding that the truth is spreading and attacking me is a last-ditch survival effort.  They are finding that all the myths on which they have built so many phony claims are now dissolving and the MIA Facts Site is playing a small part in the victory of fact over fiction.  They want to convince people that my little homemade, not-very-attractive web site, is all part of some evil conspiracy to mislead folks.   It's not working.  The MIA "activist" community is small and getting smaller. 

I was bemused to see part of the annual meeting of the National Alliance on C-SPAN in June 1999 -- same old faces, same old questions, same old mythology -- just fewer of them.   Their attempt to legislate yet another select committee is going nowhere; ditto for their silly "Bring Them Home Alive" legislation.   Their hero, Senator Bob Smith, after an abortive attempt at a presidential campaign, is isolated on the fringe of the Republican party and their Messiah, Billy Hendon, is just another blowhard, divorced, former politician who can't make an honest living.  The loss incidents that they love to point to as "proof" of abandoned men are being closed as remains are excavated from crash sites, missing men are identified and brought home.  And they can't stand it, so they lash out and try to convince unsuspecting folks that it's all a big conspiracy.

In Closing

In closing, let me summarize.   Anything that you read on the MIA Facts Site is my own work or it is quoted from others, with appropriate acknowledgement.  The site belongs to me; it is my own idea; I pay for it; I compose the articles; it's all mine; my computer, my software, my phone line; I control what goes on it and I am responsible for every bit of it. 

Addendum:  June 2001

I don't know why I waste time responding to fools but here goes.

I recently learned that an individual named Barry Toll has claimed that he and Carol Hrdlicka -- former wife of USAF Captain David Hrdlicka, died in captivity in Laos -- are telling the MIA cult that they "got Schlatter fired"   from the "POW office."  Horseshit.

I served two tours of duty in assignments related to the MIA issue:

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March 1986 through July 1990.  I was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs.

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July 1993 through March 1995.  I was assigned to the Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).

In my entire 28 years of active duty (May 1967 through April 1995) I was never fired, relieved, drummed out, or otherwise thrown out of any assignment.  In every assignment I ever had, I served the full tour length and in every case when I was reassigned, the reassignment was a result of normal Army rotation practices.

Tour with DIA POW-MIA Office

In the late summer of 1987, I was selected for promotion to colonel.   In December 1987 USAF Colonel Frank Cappiluppo, then chief of the DIA POW-MIA Office, retired from active duty and I was assigned as chief of the office.  In early 1988, a long-time friend of mine who was also my assignment manager at the Army's Personnel Command, contacted me and we met to discuss my next assignment.  He pointed out the following:

bullet

Given the rate of promotion to colonel, I would be promoted in early 1989.  (I was promoted on 1 Feb 89.)

bullet

I had returned from my last overseas assignment in June 1977 and had been in the States since then -- a period of eleven years during which time other officers of my rank had served at least one, some two, overseas tours.  I was ripe for an overseas assignment.

bullet

I could expect to be reassigned from the position in the DIA POW-MIA Office in the summer of 1989 to an overseas assignment.

When I reported this information to my boss, an Army brigadier general, he contacted the Army and requested that I remain in place until the summer of 1990 -- Personnel Command concurred.  Thus, by the late spring of 1988, I knew that I would be promoted in early 1989 and that I would leave the DIA POW-MIA Office for a new assignment in mid-1990.  And that's exactly what happened.  In December 1989, I received notification that I would go to Japan, my orders were issued in early 1990, and I reported to my new duty station in Japan in July 1990 -- all part of normal rotation and all planned two years in advance by me and my assignment officer.  The MIA cult had nothing to do with this.

Tour with DPMO

In late 1992 I was contacted by a friend of mine, an Army colonel who was serving in what would become DPMO.  He stated that he was being reassigned in the summer of 1993 and he wanted me to replace him.  We both spoke with Army Personnel Command and I received orders to leave Japan in July 1993 and report for duty with the DPMO.  I did.

In mid-1994 I knew that I would reach mandatory retirement (30 years) in May 1997.  I started casually looking for a job that I could move into after retiring from the Army.  Meanwhile, the DPMO was in the midst of being formed.   DPMO was formed out of the DIA POW-MIA Office, the Army's temporary Task Force Russia, and the former POW-MIA section of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.  Pulling together these different organizations was quite a trick and we spent a good bit of time working on the organization.

Jim Wold, Brigadier General, USAF (Retired), was appointed as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW-MIA Affairs and Director of DPMO.     I was Deputy Director.  At this time -- mid-to-late 1994 -- the military services, especially the Army, were trying to reduce the number of officers they had assigned to the Pentagon.  My position -- an Army colonel as deputy chief of a major DOD staff section -- was one of those being considered for conversion to senior civilian position.

In mid-1994, I received a tentative job offer that interested me.  I submitted my request for retirement and my retirement date was set for late 1994.   Jim Wold intervened and asked the Army to leave me in place for another six months until the transition to a civilian deputy could be completed.  The Army agreed and I remained on active duty until 31 March 1995 -- 1 April 1995 was my first day of retirement.

The Fairy Tale

I do not recall the dates but some time in late 1994 or early 1995, some of the MIA cultists got themselves an audience with Tony Lake, the President's national security advisor.  During that meeting, they railed about me, Chuck Trowbridge, Bob Destatte, and several of their other favorite targets and demanded that we be fired.

A couple of days after this meeting, I was in a meeting with one of Lake's assistants who had been present when Toll, Hrdilcka and company met with Lake.  This assistant told me two things.  First, he said that when the Toll-Hrdlicka-Lake meeting ended, and after Toll and Hrdlicka left, Lake asked his staff: "Who were those people and why did I meet with them?"  Second, he told me that Toll and Hrdlicka had demanded that I, Trowbridge, and Destatte be fired.  I asked if I should pack my bags to which he laughed -- then he suggested that, instead of being fired,  we all should be "decorated for taking shit from the likes of Toll and Hrdlicka" (his words).

I retired at the end of March 1995.  I understand now, since my retirement, Toll and Hrdlicka have been claiming that their meeting with Lake resulted in my being fired.  The claim is typical of their lies and misrepresentations.

This article was written on July 30, 1999 and last modified on December 24, 2007.