Congressman: I Paid For A Rescue Mission by Schwab With PM-Vietnam-Schwab
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A congressman says he once paid Robert Schwab III, the man released from a Vietnamese prison this week, to search for a missing U.S. serviceman in Southeast Asia.
Rep. Henson Moore, R-La., said Thursday he requested and financed a 1981 search for the spot where Air Force Lt. Severo Joseph Primm’s plane crashed. The New Orleans native’s spy plane was shot down over Laos on the last night of the Vietnam War.
Moore, a member of several congressional committees that have investigated the possibility that U.S. servicemen may still be alive in Southeast Asia, said Schwab provided him with information on possible sightings of Americans between 1977 and 1982.
Schwab, a former U.S. Army soldier from Atlanta who remained in Asia after the war, was expelled from Vietnam on Wednesday after 16 months in custody. He had been captured after sailing into Vietnamese waters on a search for the fiancee he left behind at war’s end.
Moore said his involvement in the Primm case began after columnist Jack Anderson wrote in 1977 that the armed forces had intercepted enemy radio transmissions on the day of the crash that said four American fliers had been captured.
He said Primm’s family, who had been told after the crash that Primm was dead, was shaken by the column and asked for help.
The congressman carried information on the Primm case on several trips to Vietnam and Laos, but officials of both countries released no information on the case. Moore said Schwab contacted him after one of his trips.
Moore said the cost of the 1981 foray into Laos was about $600 to $1,000 for cameras and medical supplies for the Laotian guerillas accompanying Schwab.
He said he also provided Schwab with detailed maps and information from Defense Department intelligence sources that pinpointed the crash site.
″It was in a very remote, mountainous jungle area. He told me the group he sent in never could get that far″ because of Laotian troop movements, Moore said.
Moore, who believes as many as 50 Americans are being held in Southeast Asia, said that he stopped contacting Schwab in late 1982, after becoming convinced that the Reagan administration was serious about determining the fate of Americans missing in action.
Moore said he found Schwab an extremely useful source.
″Our own security people don’t like him being there, but I came to trust him,″ Moore said.
″He knew we didn’t know what the real truth was″ about American MIAs, and ″he never tried to make any money off his information,″ Moore said.