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By John R. Alison
President, Air Force Association
Tin- article is reprinted from the June issue
..1 tii Force Magazine because e.l the continuing iii5.il. v ..I tin' international -iteieetinn involving imprisonment .'I \ lii-'i i.eiii citizens iii
Heal prison camps.
Tlie recent release oi the eleven eiirmt'ii
points up the urgency for action regarding tin-
o.L'TU Americans reported lev the State Depart
men! as -till imprisoned by the Soviets, eeenl
944 American I'OW's still em tin- Pentagon lisl
as iinretin ii.al.
Lv-i im.nth. in ihis same space | editorial page <>f lir Force Magazine]
we discussed some (if the problems which
are facing lln- men eunl women "I our
armed forces emd, for understandable
reasons, [hose "I the Air Force in particular. Some ..I you may have noted
vv liat appeared to be a glaring omission in
\<> mention was made nl one Air Force
personnel problem aboul which we feel
must deeply, llu- terrible plight of the
fifteen unfortunate American Air Force
fliers vv ho have been languishing in Red
Chinese prisons l.n ei- much ;is two eunl
a half years.
I didn'l lalk eiliinil the captured Biers
leisi month because ii appeared that ii
mighl do in.ni' harm than good. The'
conference i>i Asiatic nations al Hem
dung weis scheduled to begii tin- ileiv
'In- Mav issue nl lit Force Magazine
came 1.11 iln- press. There was an optimistic feeling ai tin- headquarters of the
I nited Nations, in inn Stale' Department,
and in the Pentagon thai iln- time was
ripe fen (.heen laii-lai lei make a magnani-
ij- gesture ol peaceful propaganda In
offering he release our airmen a- et pos-
~il.li- gambit ai the conference.
Several factors combined lu generate
this feeling e.l optimism, fur one thing,
"nr State Departmenl had granted permission Im the seventy-six Chinese stu-
dents being detained in llii- countn I"
lvtiuii I.. Kill China if they wished,
'here heul been an exchange uf correspondence between Chou En-lai and the
\ Secretary General, Dag rlammars-
Molil. which seemed tu hold oul some
U. S. soldiers leaving a Communist truck at the Panmunjom
in August, 1953. Unfortunately, all American POW's were not
included in the
hope lhal iln' prisoners might I"- released, ll was alsu reported thai ['resident Eisenhower had suggested, mi a
man-to-man basis, thai General Zhukov
uf lhe I .S.S.I;., as an old soldier himself, intercede personally on behalf of
ihe captured fliers. Ami there were other
straws in the wind which made it appeal
lhat a strong stand on the pari nf the
Air Force Association at that particular
time mighl upsel ei <l<li< eih-lv balanced
Hnl Bandung ha- come ami gone. And
the American airmen are still counting
the days and trying to remember what
their loved ones look like. The only
change in their -latus is the facl thai the
Chinese Red Cross heis agreed to dis-
tribute relief parcels senl I" the prisoners
frnm their families and friends. Some
saw in this a softening ol the Communisl
Chinese attitude. Hut better-informed
people tell me lhal ihi- is more likel)
em easy wav for ihe Chinese to gel the
prisoners equipped with warm clothing
ami food for ei long, cold winter. See optimism lias been replaced l>v pessimism.
Even Mr. Hammarskjold, who lin> pursued negotiations in the' patient manner
of classic diplomacy, acknowledged at a
recent news conference thai he was lie-
ginning to feel "et certain impatience.
I'm sure I -| n;ik leu all members of the
\ir Force Association when I sav thai
"impatience scarcel) begins to express
..in feelings on lhe matter. I m elllgrv.
Tin' \ir Force Vssociation is angry, lhe
meijeiritv ol the American people should
he elllgrv aboul lllis Iraveslv on jll-tie'e'
ami i ivilize'il international conduct.
pACTS FORUM NEWS, September,
Jusl recent!) I attended the convention of the California wing of AFA, at
Fresno. There the Ladies' Auxiliarj
passed ei resolution which vvas subsequent!) adopted hv the entire convention. I think it expresses whal I mean.
Stripped ol the' "whereases," here is the
gisl of it.
Diplomatic efforts to release the fliers
hav.' failed. The unjust imprisonment
..I ..ur servicemen for political purposes
is an invasion of human rights and an
acl of aggression against the United
Stales. The matter is corroding the moral
fiber of our nation and, if nol corrected.
cannot help hut adversely affeel the readi-
ness of our vi.ling men to answer their
oounlrv s call. Since Soviet Russia has
armed, equipped, and assisted Communist China in her acts of aggression, il Is
incumbent upon President Eisenhower
to place the blame for this aggression
where it belongs — upon Soviet Russia.
I Im President, therefore, should take decisive action directly with the U.S.S.R.
to oblaiu tin- release of these fifteen airmen anil all other I nited Stales service-
men now held in Red prisons. Further,
the wives and mothers of the nation are
entitled to know whal action their government will take if their husbands eiml
sons are imprisoned under similar circumstances in the Inline.
This i- prettj strong talk. Bul we've
given the "sweel talk" approach a good
ii v over the past several months. It hasn't
workc.I. Thai it hasn't i- no reflection on
cither llie skill or the patience of our
negotiators. Bul silting down al a conference table withoul some bargaining