The Case For The Life Of U.S. Air Force Major Peter Richard Matthes "GX2527"
Jan. .93 -Nov. 94


The Case For The Life Of
U.S. Air Force Major Peter Richard Matthes
"GX 2527"

By Robert P. Thompson ........... The closer one looks at a myth, the more obvious its falsehood. This is especially true concerning the tragic deception surrounding the POWIMIA issue. One of many threads in this cloak of deceit, is the government's cynical claim of openness and public access to documents relating to the POW/MIA issue. The telling reality is that along with other crucial documents NO IMAGERY RELATING TO POW DISTRESS SIGNALS HAS BEEN DECLASSIFIED. All distress signal imagery remains classified TOP SECRET even as government damage control specialists attempt to thwart any closer examination of what they might contain, which is, according to the Defense Department, nothing. One has to ask, if the imagery contains no evidence of distress signals, why does the Defense Department go to such pains to protect it?

Numerous news articles have revealed the Defense Department's desire to sell the satellite imagery collection hardware on the open market, all the while using its sensitive technology as a national security excuse for keeping the imagery under lock and key. The need for an 'independent' examination of the satellite imagery remains as critical today as it was in 1992 when the distress signal evidence was secretly discussed and dismissed by Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry, eager to sweep aside anything that could get in the way of "normalization" and business interests.

Although the evidence pertaining to distress signals and satellite imagery remains locked up tight in Defense Department files, something worthy of examination did surface recently in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Along with the NIM Imagery Analysis Report Of POW/MIA Related photograph, by Colonel (Ret.) Lorenzo W. Burroughs, who discovered the "GX2527" signal, came unexpectedly a copy of a rive page letter from General James W. Wold, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and chief trouble shooter for the government POWIMIA Task Force, critical of the 5 August 1994 Minneapolis Star Tribune News With A View article by Graydon Royce on POW distress signals, and in particular, information provided by me.

The POW distress signals issue demands a closer examination, this is why I mailed the News With A View article immediately after publication to President Clinton, marked for "Executive Branch Only", along with an explanatory letter and a six page synopsis of the distress signals issue, consisting largely of direct quotations from the 1223 page Senate Select Committee Report On POW/MIA Affairs, where revelations of POW distress signals first became available to the public. Apparently the White House is not interested in focusing any light on this issue, but instead has relinquished its duty and the lives of the men behind the signals, to the dark blanket of disinformation that the Pentagon has held over this issue all along.

The closer one looks at a lie, the more obvious its falsehood.

Concerning General Wold's charge that the pilot distress symbols "reportedly associated with American servicemen" were "alleged" by me, as if pulled out of the hat of a conspiracy theory wacko, I refer to the Report Of The Select Committee On POWIMIA Affairs United States Senate, dated January 13, 1993:

"This consultant had detected, with '100 percent confidence' a faint 'GX 2527' in a photograph of a prison facility in Vietnam taken in June-, 1992. This number correlates to the primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number of a pilot lost in Laos in 1969." (page 26)

"At Dong Mang (Dong Vai) prison, on June 1992 photography, he observed what he believed to be a 'GX 2527' etched in a field near the prison. He rated this at 100 percent level of confidence in his initial report, and did not change his position during the joint review. JSSA has confirmed that '2527' matches the authenticator number of a serviceman still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. In the same vicinity, he also found a possible name, in which he originally gave a 70 percent confidence call. His position remained unchanged after the joint review." (page 215)

(JSSA: Joint Services Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Agency)

The consultant in question, Colonel (Ret.) Lorenzo W. Burroughs, was the Deputy Director and head of the National Photographic Interpretation Center and pioneered satellite imagery analysis methods used today during a 40 year career for which he received the nation's highest award.

It is important to note that page 26 clearly states that the "primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number" match a missing pilot. General Wold later claims that "the letters 'GX' have no known correlation to any American unaccounted for in Southeast Asia." This is an outright contradiction of the findings of the Senate Select Committee, which further advises:

"...the Committee urges the appropriate officials in the Executive branch to request information about the servicemen involved from the Government of Vietnam." (page 26)

"...because the number corresponds to a specific individual, the Committee agrees that the benefit of doubt should go to that possible individual, certainly enough to warrant a 'by-name' request by an appropriately high ranking U.S. official to the Vietnamese government, for information on that missing serviceman. In making that request, it should be emphasized to the Vietnamese that there is a basis for questioning whether he could be alive." (page 218)

General Wold asserts that "the Senate Select Committee recommended the Defense Department question the Vietnamese about the alleged symbol and about Major Matthes". He further states how DOD investigators visited the "area" and found no "witnesses". The Senate Select Committee's recommendation clearly states "Executive branch" and "Government of Vietnam". President Clingstone has been notified repeatedly since coming into office and yet has still failed to assume his duty and lawful obligation as Commander in Chief to fulfill this responsibility. Frightened villagers living in a communist police state hardly constitute the Government of Vietnam and would hardly be in a position to observe aerial directed distress signals from the ground. Tragically, the "investigators" also failed to inspect the prison facility outside of which the signals were found. Inexcusably, none of the Senators of the Committee, including Chairman Kerry, ever bothered to visit the prison on their much ballyhooed "impromptu" inspections in Vietnam. This pattern is all too familiar with those who have given even a precursory look at the workings of those entrusted with the fate of the missing.

"The joint agency team agreed that there were visible markings that could be interpreted as letters and numbers, but concluded that the marking 'appeared' too 'haphazard and ill-defined' to be man-made distress symbols." (page 26)

Which is precisely the manner in which the pilots were trained in survival courses as to how to create a rescue signal that will not be discovered on the ground but can indeed be discovered from the air using highly sophisticated electronic aerial surveillance imagery collection devices.

"During the war, the military services gave many pilots who flew combat missions individual authenticator numbers to identify themselves by radio or other means in the event their airplanes were shot down or crashed. During their pre-flight training, pilots were also given Escape and Evasion (E&E) signals to employ either as an evader or POW to facilitate their eventual recovery. Most pilots received training in methods of constructing these E&E symbols in survival courses, prior to assignment to Vietnam. Both E&E symbols and authenticator numbers were classified." (page 23-24)

"It was expected that these symbols would be used to attract rescuers and would be deployed in ways which would avoid ground detection and yet be visible to overhead collecting sources." (page 24)

11 ... signals which could be extremely faint, or a clever blend of natural and man-made features". (page 24)

"DIA resolved that some of the possible symbols were the results of a combination of thickened rice paddy dike walls, shadows, burn marks in the field, tree, logs, and rice residue from stacking of harvested rice." (page 202)

(DIA: Defense Intelligence Agency)

"JSSA testified that the use of thickened rice paddy walls, burn marks, logs, trees, man-made objects such as stone walls and leaving rice residue in the ground as a means to leave a signal, are consistent with SERE training." (page 202)

(SERE: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape)

"The Committee asked JSSA to determine if the markings corresponded to symbols provided to pilots during the war. During the course of this evaluation, JSSA identified what appeared to be additional symbols and numbers, some of which corresponded to authenticator numbers, escape and evasion symbols, western style surnames, or numbers relevant to years of the Vietnam War." (page 202)

"They correlated 19 of those authenticator numbers with numbers belonging to Americans still listed as missing in Southeast Asia." (page 203)

On page 1 of his letter, General Wold makes the following assertion, apparently confident that no one will bother to look below the surface; "Each of the symbols referred to by Mr. Thompson has been thoroughly investigated by top imagery experts, to include representatives of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC)."

From the Senate Select Committee Report:

"During its investigation, the Committee was surprised by statements from DIA and CIA imagery analysts directly involved in POW/MIA work that they were not very knowledgeable about the military's E&E signals or, in some cases, even aware of the program. These analysts were not even tasked to look for such information prior to April 1992. The Committee concluded that there had not been a purposeful effort to search for distress signals, or a written formal requirement for symbols, after the end of the war. (page 24)

"Another indicator that DIA has done little to address the possibility of distress symbols appearing on photography is its inability to account for the Army's, Navy's or Marine Corps' pilot authenticator numbers. JSSA still preserves those for the Air Force. As recorded in the hearing of October 15, DIA does not know what happened to the numbers." (page 208)

"In theory, therefore, if a POW still living in captivity, were to attempt to communicate by ground signal, smuggling out a note, or by whatever means possible, and he used his personal authenticator number to confirm his identity, the U.S. Government would be unable to provide such confirmation, if his number happened to be among those numbers DIA cannot locate." (page 209)

It was revealed a few years ago that the Defense Department had also inexplicably lost the fingerprints formerly attached to each record book of all the men listed as missing in action.

"In a subsequent deposition, Roger Eggert, a CIA imagery analyst, confirmed what had been learned in interviews regarding his agency's lack of knowledge about this program. He was asked:"

"Were pilot distress symbols something that you had ever studied before spring of this year?" (1992)

"His answer: "No."

"Was it anything--were pilot distress symbols anything that you ever looked for in any of your imagery analysis before spring of this year?" (1992)

"His answer: "No."

"This lack of knowledge about pilot distress symbols is but another example of bureaucratic jealousies or incompetent coordination in critically important analyses." (page 208)

Referring to Colonel Burrough's finding with "100 percent confidence" that the symbol "GX 2527" was manmade, General Wold states in his letter that; "Another Committee colleague disagreed with this finding. He concluded the alleged "GX2527" symbol was not marinade but merely an anomaly created by natural shading from ground vegetation. "

The other "Committee colleague" that General Wold refers to is Carroll Lucas, a former CIA employee who was recruited from the private sector by Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry's staff director, Frances Zwenig. A January 4, 1994 New York Newsday article by Sydney Schanberg, Pulitzer Prize winner for his coverage of the Cambodian holocaust and veteran Indochina reporter, has this to say about Frances Zwenig:

"Zwenig compiled a record of trying to suppress all evidence showing that prisoners had been left behind and trying to breathe credibility into the Pentagon's statements that no such evidence existed. When the committee's final report was being written, Zwenig became the Pentagon's conduit for slipping in a number of key debunking inserts, many of them patent falsehoods. None of the inserts identified the material as coming from the Pentagon; it looked like the committee's own conclusions."

"Zwenig searched out Lucas in the fall of 1992 in order to protect the Pentagon's public position on satellite imagery, which was that the markings were nothing more than shadows and vegetation. Dozens of these images were examined by the committee. No matter how clear the distress signals, the Pentagon parroted the same explanation: shadows and vegetation."

Regarding Carroll Lucas, who, at the time worked for a company called Autometrics, Sydney Schanberg reports on an interesting memo from Zwenig to her boss, Chairman Kerry. The following memos were culled from Committee records stored in the National Archives:

"Looks like Auto Metrics [sic] fills bill for expert on imagery -- I am working on the script w/DIA."

"Script" is defined in the dictionary as, "The text of a play..."

Schanberg further reveals:

"...the committee's documents show that Lucas, even before he had begun his examination of the imagery, told a committee staffer that he thought most of the symbols were 'hoaxes'. The shocked staffer immediately composed a 'memorandum for the record'."

"A few days later, as Lucas was just starting his work, he stated to two staffers that he 'should have all the symbols negated within the time frame desired by the committee.' Another memo went into the record. Lucas must have believed that the entire committee staff was in on the rigging."

In his letter of 22 August 1994 General Wold states, "From October 21 to November 8, 1993, a joint United States-Laos investigation team excavated the crash site associated with Major Matthes' loss incident." "In addition to aircraft wreckage and personal effects, the investigation team recovered 649 bone fragments, including five teeth, that are at present undergoing identification analyses by the Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI)."

A previous letter from Charles F. Trowbridge, Jr., Deputy Director, Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, Defense Intelligence Agency, to U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, states, "in January 1993, a joint U.S./Lao investigation team visited the crash site of this aircraft and found personal items of the crew in the wreckage. This site has been recommended as a high priority excavation site for one of the joint recovery teams operating throughout Southeast Asia under the authority of Joint Task Force--Full Accounting. This excavation should conclusively resolve the fate of the missing Air Force officer."

Note the dates that the investigation teams visited the crash site. First in January 1993, where even though no bone fragments or teeth are found, Mr. Trowbridge assures us that a future excavation should "conclusively resolve" this case. The second excavation of October 21 to November 8, 1993, eleven months later, "recovered" 649 bone fragments and 5 teeth. Much can be said about how "teeth" have been turning up all over the place in recent years and how the search for bones over many years has clearly drawn the public and the media's attention away from the obvious failure at 'all' levels of Government to even 'once' confront the Vietnamese Government for information concerning possible 'live' American prisoners, but for the purposes of this case I ask only the following obvious question: How is it that when over a year has transpired since the second excavation and almost two years since the first, no information is yet apparently available to indicate that the findings are even human? And that the teeth, if they are indeed human, have not been positively identified either way by the simple comparison to dental records? And yet to this day, the Senate Committee's recommendation "to request information about the servicemen involved from the Government of Vietnam" has been completely ignored.

(Note by author: in October and November of 1995 the United States Government accepted as 'identified' "group remains" for 14 American MIA's including Major Matthes. A Defense Intelligence Agency unclassified message dated 11/09/95 states the following in regard to anticipated questions from the media. "Group remains represent human biological evidence which can be associated with a specific incident, but cannot be individualized by any currently available, scientifically accepted technique." Which means that the bone fragments and teeth that the U. S. Government received have 'not' been identified individually as belonging to Major Peter Matthes.)

In an April 27,1993 NBC DATELINE televised interview, Colonel Burroughs, and Senator Bob Smith, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, were questioned about "GX 2527". The following excerpts are from that remarkable, and characteristically ignored interview:

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?"

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."

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 signature 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."

DATELINE: "Nobody told you to look for the number'GX 2527'."

Burroughs: "No."

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."

Senator Bob Smith, Committee Vice Chairman and one of the only civilians to have ever seen the satellite photo in question is asked what he saw:

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 'GX 2527'."

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."

"GX 2527"

The odds that this symbol, which the Senate Committee admits, "correlates to the primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number of a pilot lost in Laos in 1969", and was found on "a photograph of a prison facility in Vietnam taken in June, 1992", is somehow "coincidental" as General Wold asserts is astronomically absurd! This is obvious, and yet in the interests of making a stronger case for the life of Air Force Major Peter Richard Matthes, "associated" with this signal, I contacted the Math Department of the University of Minnesota, where a professor of mathematics, referred to me for his knowledge in the field of 'mathematical probabilities', confirmed the following:

Using only the English alphabet (letters 'a' thru'z'), and English numbers ('O' through 9'), 26 letters plus 10 numbers, there are 36 'possible occurrences' (letters or numbers) that could have appeared in any one of the spaces (6 spaces) that make up "GX2527". The problem with General Wold's "coincidental" argument is that there are well over 2 billion other possible, random, coincidental outcomes that could have occurred instead of "GX2527". The markings on the photograph could have been 'AAA123'or'Z99999' or over 2 billion other possibilities. The scientific formula to determine just how many possibilities is as follows:

36 x 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 X 36 = 2,176,782,336 (36 to the 6th power)

This is actually the minimum number of possible occurrences for it does not include other factors such as the "walking x" appendage, the fact that the symbol is written in a straight line and not jumbled, nor does it factor in letters and numbers from other languages or symbols such as ?, *, #, etc..

Coincidence? You might as well say "the Tooth Fairy did it".

DNA evidence, with a potential human 'match' of one in approximately 89 million, and is considered valid evidence even in crimes with the sentence of death, pales in comparison to the above calculations. The sentence of death imposed on Major Peter Richard Matthes should be overturned, and his release demanded immediately.


General Wold states in his letter, "With regard to the purported 'SEREX' symbol, no employee of the Defense Department has ever observed the word 'SEREX' on any satellite imagery or photography maintained by the United States Government."

From the Senate Select Committee Report:

"They (JSSA analysts) correlated 19 of those authenticator numbers with numbers belonging to Americans still listed as missing in Southeast Asia. They also identified what appeared to be a name scratched in a field near a prison compound, in a 1992 photo. The significance of this possible symbol is reflected in testimony received during the Committee's hearing on symbols:

Senator Grassley: Mr. Dussault, did you also think that you saw [sic] faintly scratched in the field?

Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir.

Senator Grassley: Without telling us the name, did you try to match it with the names on the missing list?

Mr. Dussault: About three days later, yes, sir. At first I didn't realize it was a name.

Senator Grassley: Did you see, 72 TA 88?

Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir. To my recollection that's what I saw.

Senator Grassley: How did you interpret that?

Mr. Dussault: At first, my first interpretation of that is -72 was the year the guy went down. TA was his E&E code letters. And 88 could have been the year he arrived there or the year he left. And that was my interpretation. I don't know if that's even close. That's just speculation.

Senator Grassley: When you saw 72 TA 88, did it match a person that was missing?

Mr. Dussault: Sir, again, we are talking a year, two letters, TA--and those are E&E code letters that applied during 1972.

Senator Grassley: When you found the name, though, did it match when that person went down?

Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir." (page 203)

The symbol in question, which Robert Dussault was asked during questioning not to mention, was later revealed to be the 'SEREX' symbol. Robert Dussault is not only a Defense Department employee, but is the Deputy Director of JSSA, the pentagon unit tasked with the responsibility of devising distress signals, training pilots how to use them, and interpreting evidence of distress signals. Dussault, who had also been schooled in photo imagery, was the subject of another Sydney Schanberg article dated, 07 Jan. 1994:

"Dussault came across the SER]EX photo on Aug. 13, 1992, while at the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters. He had been invited there to brief CIA photo interpreters on his area of expertise -- distress signals."

"While he was briefing the CIA men, they brought out several satellite photos to show him some of the areas they had photographed. Among the photos was a blown-up print, about 2 feet by 2 1/2 , of a piece of a field alongside the Dong Vai prison in North Vietnam. 'My eyebrows went way up,' Dussault told someone later."

"On the photo, he saw not only the letters S-E-R-E-X but a string of nine or 10 numbers above it and a legend below it that read '72TA881. T and A, said Dussault, were distress letters assigned to pilots in 1972., the year Serex went down. Struck hard by the photo, he circled the symbols in red ink."

"Dussault described the before and after in testimony to the Senate committee: 'The CIA guys ... said look, we saw the numbers. They admitted seeing the same numbers I did. When I circled it, they were right there and they said yeah, we saw it'.

Listed clearly on the official Missing-In-Action Report is the name: Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. SEREX.

Robert Dussault is still working for the Defense Department, but the photograph with the red circle has apparently not been seen since and the photo imagery itself is locked tightly away in Defense Department files.

Regarding General Wold's statement, "To our knowledge, the letters 'TA' were never used as an official evasion and escape or distress symbol during the war in Southeast Asia", please note Deputy Director Dussault's statements specifically addressing this point in his questioning before the Senate Committee above. Also, please see (attached) copies of two recently declassified Defense Department documents clearly showing 'T' as the very first code listed under the heading of "PRIMARY E&E CODE LETTERS" and 'A' the very first code listed under the heading "BACK-UP E&E CODE LETTERS".


In respect to the "WRYE" symbol and its correlation to Air Force Col. Blair C. Wrye, General Wold states that "on Sept. 13, 1990, his were among 20 remains returned by the Vietnamese". The General fails to mention that the photograph containing the "WRYE" symbol was taken in 1988. The most telling indictment of this "investigation" is that while brought out in the official Senate Committee report, the investigators failed to notice or bother to check the obvious. Listed clearly on the official Missing-in-Action list is the name: Air Force Colonel Blair C. WRYE.


Concerning the "USA" symbol captured on photo imagery in 1988, General Wold states, "As indicated in the Intelligence Information Report, two Lao village youths created the letters by gathering arm loads of rice straw into the shapes of the letters and setting them ablaze. The Lao youths copied the letters from the return address on an envelope received from relatives in the United States". Although the "Lao youths" were never given polygraph tests, standard procedure in witness cases of this nature, this story was highly publicized in the American media. The "investigation" that led to this scenario was not performed until 'four' years after the symbols were discovered by the Defense Department. What was not publicized at all, however, is the initial analysis performed by the Defense Department four years prior at the time the symbols were first discovered. The following excerpt comes from a recently declassified document (copy attached) attained through the Freedom of Information Act:

"The three letter inscription 'USA' stamped out in large block letters in a recently harvested field at the coordinates 2023 N/10401 E (UH98 54). The inscription, 'USA,' is approximately 10-12 feet high and 36 feet across. The letters form water filled depressions in the otherwise dry field."

How and why did this symbol go from an expert intelligence analysis, at the time of discovery, of "water filled depressions" to a 'finding' four years later, with advance notice to the Laotians involved, based on the 'word' of two Laotian youths, that the letters were made with piles of burnt rice straw?

The closer one looks at a lie, the more obvious its falsehood.

The case of U.S. Air Force Major Peter Richard Matthes is by far the most compelling. That is because more information relating to it was revealed in the Senate Select Committee Report but most importantly, because of the high degree of scientific and mathematical evidence associated with the symbol "GX 2527". The physical evidence of the photo imagery, locked away and gathering dust in Defense Department files, is secondary to the 'fact' that the Senate Committee clearly states in it's Report that this symbol "correlates to the primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number of a pilot lost in Laos in 1969". The odds of a "coincidence" are astronomical even without the "walking X" appendage, and clearly constitute proof well beyond what should be required to motivate the President to perform his constitutional duty for an American who was 'ordered' into harm's way in the service to his country. Peter Richard Matthes or any of the other men abandoned to a 'life' of unimaginable and prolonged misery, should not be made to pay for the failures of the men in high places who sent them there, or for a nation so steeped in denial that as the Senate Report concludes, they were not abandoned by their country, they were simply:

"shunted aside and discounted by government and population alike".

The 'numbers' in The Case For The Life Of Peter Richard Matthes should be persuasive by their own weight. However, in the political world, where this case must ultimately be decided, it's the numbers of calls and letters to your Senators, Representatives, White House and Media that count. We the People are the Jury in this case and Peter Matthes "GX 2527" awaits our verdict. As the evidence indicates, this is not a question of proof, it's a question of loyalty! The lie is built like a house of cards. Take one out and the whole thing will crumble. Let's send a SIGNAL that can't be ignored. DEMAND THE RELEASE OF MAJOR PETER RICHARD MATTHES IMMEDIATELY!