Retired Soviet Colonel Reports U.S. Marine Sighted In Soviet Prison Camp
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Farmingdale, N.Y., woman has been notified by U.S. government officials that her brother, a Marine Corps sergeant listed as missing from the Korean War, was seen alive in a Soviet prison camp as late as 1966.
″It’s important because it’s as close as we’ve come″ to confirming that U.S. servicemen in Korea were taken into the Soviet Union and never returned, said a U.S. defense official familiar with the case of Sgt. Philip Vincent Mandra. The official discussed the matter today on condition of anonymity.
Russian officials, and before them officials of the former Soviet Union, have denied that any American servicemen were transferred to Soviet territory during the war.
Irene Mandra of Farmingdale said in an interview today that she was notified by government officials Tuesday that her brother had been seen alive in a prison at Magadan in the former Soviet Union in 1963 and in 1966 by an officer of Soviet internal security, retired Col. Vladimir Malinin.
Malinin told U.S. POW-MIA investigators last month that he saw Mandra walking alone in the Magadan prison, asked why Mandra was being kept alone and was told it was because Mandra was ″an American spy,″ Mrs. Mandra said U.S. officials told her.
Malinin identified Mandra from photographs shown to him by the U.S. investigators.
It is the first known case of a Soviet official confirming a live siting in a Soviet prison of an American serviceman officially listed as missing in action from Korea.
Mandra, an infantryman, was lost on Aug. 7, 1952, when his Marine Corps unit engaged a Chinese force in North Korea, Mrs. Mandra said. His body was never recovered, and he has been listed ever since among the more than 8,100 servicemen unaccounted for from the war.
″I’m quite excited″ by the news, Mrs. Mandra said. ″I’m praying and hoping the Pentagon will follow up″ on the information and press the Russians to allow more U.S. access to its military and security archives from the Korean War period.
Maj. Steve Little, a Pentagon spokesman on POW-MIA affairs, confirmed that officials had notified Mrs. Mandra of the reported siting.