| NBC DATELINE
Colonel Burroughs and Senator Bob Smith, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, were questioned about "GX 2527"...Burroughs: "100 percent confidence call."
Colonel Burroughs received the Nation's highest award for intelligence work. In a 28 year career, he rose to become acting director of the top secret National Photo Interpretation Center(NPIC). He has never before spoken publicly about what he saw in a very recent satellite photo he examined for the Senate Committee.
DATELINE: "You're saying that in a 1992 photo...
Burroughs: "That's correct."
DATELINE: "...of a rice paddy, a field in Vietnam...
Burroughs: "That's correct."
DATELINE: "...there were two letters and four numbers?"
100% Confidence Call
Burroughs: "That is correct."
DATELINE: "It's not a maybe? Maybe this is something?"
Burroughs: "Absolutely. I'm positive. Once you've seen it, you know it."
DATELINE: "Your Report says 100 percent certainty."
Burroughs: "100 percent confidence call."
His conclusion is all the more haunting because it's not the first time possible symbols have been observed there. In fact, 17 years earlier, another possible distress code was observed less than 500 feet away. The site, an old prison near the North Vietnamese port of Haiphong where many American flyers were shot down. This computer enhanced photograph of the prison, taken in 1975, appears meaningless to the untrained eye but not to CIA analysts who examined it. They reported that someone, while making repairs to the prison roof, arranged the tiles as seen in this diagram, to produce what could be a distress signal in Morse code. Colonel Burroughs is convinced the possible distress code he saw in the 1992 photo of the same area was very recent.
DATELINE: "When was that symbol (GX 2527) made?"
Burroughs: "I would anticipate that from the shape of it, that it was not older than a year."
DATELINE: "Not older than a year?"
Burroughs: "I don't think that the signature (GX 2527) could have survived longer than, in that particular field, more than a year."
DATELINE: "And that symbol corresponds to a pilot's distress code?"
Burroughs: "Absolutely. There's no question in my mind about it."
DATELINE: "What were the two letters and two [sic] numbers?"
Burroughs: "GX, a walking X, 2527".
DATELINE: "And the 'walking X means that it has been modified in the way that only aircrews are supposed to know?"
Burroughs: "That's how they're trained and all of them are trained to do that."
As seen in this declassified document, Vietnam air aviators were taught not only to display letters and numbers but to alter them slightly in a way that rescuers would immediately recognize. The alterations are still considered secret enough that the Pentagon blacks them out to this day but it's clear that a walking X, for instance, was an X with some kind of attached feet to verify it as a legitimate distress code.
DATELINE: "Nobody told you to look for the number 'GX 2527'."
DATELINE: "And you didn't know at the time that 'GX2527' is a legitimate distress code for a particular airman?"
Burroughs: "No I did not. I did not know that it was a particular airman's authenticator code."
Dateline has confirmed that GX2527 is an authenticator code corresponding to an airman missing in action in southeast Asia. After Colonel Burroughs told the Senate committee about finding that symbol, Senator Bob Smith looked at the photo and reached his own conclusions.
Sen. Smith: "I saw it. I'm not an expert, don't claim to be, but I saw the letters and the numbers clearly, no question about it in my mind, as clearly as I could see my own name written, I know that I saw a 'GX2527'."
I know that I saw a 'GX2527'
The final question goes back to Colonel Burroughs:
DATELINE: "What are the chances of the symbol 'GX2527' some how sort of appearing out there naturally?"
Burroughs: "It is a--absolutely zero."
It is a--absolutely zero
SMITH: We've got enough proof out there that it is authentic and right now, the onus is on the Vietnamese. What happened to the men? What have you done with the men? Where are they? That's the bottom line. That's where... the ball is in their court and they need to tell us and anything short of that is unacceptable.
What happened to the men?