Category Archives: TAPS- MILITARY DEATHS


“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Tim McGraw-Grown Men Don’t Cry

Click for high resolution.

Lynyrd Skynyrd The Last Rebel LIVE

There’s a grey horse standin’ still
As a soldier climbs in the saddle for one last ride
As the rain pours off his hat
You can see the shadows of the past written in his eyes

Now the cannons are silent
His friends are all gone
Gotta put it all behind him
If he ever wants to find his way home
He’s the last rebel on the road

Just a boy with his old guitar
Keeps to himself
but everybody takes him wrong
But he carries on
Got a dream that will never die
Can’t change him, no use in stayin’ where you don’t belong

Now he’s rollin’ down the highway
Gone too far too fast
No one will ever find him
he’ll never look back

Cause he’s the last rebel
And he’s all alone
He’s the last rebel
His friends are all gone
He’s the last rebel
The last rebel on the road

There’ll never be another like him
He’s the last of a dying breed
Ain’t no use in tryin’ to tame him

‘Cause he’s the last rebel
And he’s all alone
He’s the last rebel
His friends are all gone
He’s the last rebel
gotta carry on
He’s the last rebel
The last rebel on the road


3 Charged in Hazing That Led to Marine’s Suicide

August 26, 2011

San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Alone in a foxhole in Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Harry Lew wrote a message on his arm to his mom: “May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice.” Then he leaned over his military-issued machine gun, put his mouth over the muzzle and pulled the trigger.

A new U.S. military report revealed why he did it: He had been mercilessly hazed by his fellow Marines.

Thursday, the military announced charges against three Marines accused of beating and taunting the 21-year-old just hours before he killed himself on April 3.

The disclosure is the military’s first explanation into how the young South Bay native whose friends knew him as a carefree breakdancer had died.

The charges recommended by military investigators allege the trio forced Lew to do push-ups, leg lifts with a sand bag and other excruciating exercises in his full combat gear because he repeatedly fell asleep while manning a guard post. They then poured sand on Lew’s face, kicked him in the back with their boots, stomped him in the head and told him, “It’s inevitable, Lew, you’re going to get your ass beat,” according to a Marine Corps investigation into the death.

Early the next morning, Lew wrote “I’m sorry my mom deserves the truth” on his arm before the fatal burst of gunfire, documents show.

Lew’s father, Allen, said Thursday that his son had been “a really happy man,” smiling in pictures with his fellow Marines, and had no disciplinary problems in his first five months overseas. But 10 days before his death, he was transferred to a new unit. Then suddenly, his new combat mates began accusing him of sleeping on his post, which the father thinks was just an excuse to “beat him up.” Marines who fall asleep at their post during wartime can face harsh penalties.

“I’m so upset,” Lew said. “What’s happening is really shocking. I cannot believe that the United States military would [let] something like this [happen]. This is not acceptable. This is really, really bad.”

Allen Lew said his son had worked hard to be a Marine and “take care of the Taliban” and that the family deserves justice for what happened.

“I have no idea what kind of punishment they are going to get but I want someone to be responsible for his death,” Lew said.

The military charges do not directly hold the three Marines responsible for Lew’s death. But they say their actions were in violation of the military’s criminal code of justice and deserve punishment.

“The Marine Corps prides itself on holding its members to the highest levels of accountability,” Lt. Col. Curtis Hill said in a statement.

“The Marine Corps does not tolerate hazing of any kind.”

Lance Cpls. Jacob Jacoby, 21, Carlos Orozco III, 22, and their 26-year-old squad leader, Sgt. Benjamin Johns, all face a hearing on Sept. 8 at a Marines Corps base in Hawaii, where their unit was based.

Much like a civilian grand jury, a judge will decide whether to recommend charges to a military “convening authority,” similar to a district attorney, who would then file administrative or criminal charges, or neither.

Depending on the outcome of that process, the Marines may face no punishment or it may be handled internally through their dismissal or other penalty. They could also face a general court-martial, which is the military’s criminal court.

Jacoby faces three charges of assault, one in connection with the beating threat and another violation in the hazing. They recommend Orozco get two assault charges, and one each for cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction, and the hazing violation. Johns faces hazing and dereliction charges as their supervisor. The squad leader was on his third tour while the riflemen were on their first and second tours, respectively.


The Suicidal Soldiers of Fort Campbell: In Memoriam, Post-Memorial Day




John Eskow

Screenwriter, Journalist

Now that the television rituals are over — the theatrically somber voices of the network anchormen; the poetically-framed, stock-footage shots of Arlington Cemetary, and the cracked-bugle versions of “Taps;” maybe a cutesy interview with the Oldest Surviving Veteran of some forgotten battle — the American media, having done its faux-patriotic duty, can forget Memorial Day and scurry back to its infantile obsession with the inside-baseball minutiae of Washington politics.

And what of the freshly-dead soldiers, the soon-to-be-dead soldiers, and all those warriors for whom IED stands not for “improvised explosive devices” but “internal emotional death?”

For them, that one Memorial Day is over, and the remaining days of the year — those 364 consecutive Amnesia Days — are just beginning.

It’s truly amazing how little attention has been paid to the epidemic of suicide at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — home to the legendary 101st Airborne Division.

Why isn’t it a front-page story when an entire military base shuts down for three days in a worthy — if sadly belated — attempt to cope with “at least” eleven suicides?

Why do the moronic ramblings of Liz Cheney draw so much more attention than the fact that our soldiers are now murdering themselves at a faster clip than our enemies do?

Year after year, our military sets new records for self-destruction. In the Army alone, there were 115 in 2007, and 133 in 2008, We’ve already had 64 confirmed Army suicides this year, so we’re sure to shatter the old mark.

And of course these numbers only begin to hint at the problem: they don’t include the slower, long-term suicides by alcohol and drugs, by madness and homelessness, or the quasi-zombie wrecks who sit on porches across America staring dully out into the middle distance.

So the brass at Fort Campbell shuts the base down for three days, in “an effort to let the soldiers know that the command cares,” according to spokesperson Kelly Tyler; “to make sure people know we want them to keep living.” Ms. Tyler goes on — with haunting and unintended irony — to say: “It is such an unusual event to look them in the eye and say their life matters.”

Yes. It’s a highly unusual event. And ‘s a horribly — and grotesquely — insufficient one.

“Soldiers often refuse to admit they are having problems because of the culture of the military,” she said.

True enough. And this was the extra, hidden evil of Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” edict — it reinforced the very culture of secrecy, denial and shame that was already at soul-crushing levels in the military. And not just around the issue of sexual preference: how many other passions, fears, and forbidden thoughts are soldiers forced to deny, minute to minute, year after year, in order to survive… until they snap?

And when that final snap comes, they don’t only destroy themselves: although it was a short-lived story in the American media, five military families are still mourning the soldiers killed by the decidedly un-friendly fire of Army Sergeant John Russell. In a cheap but potent irony, Sgt. Russell — tellingly described by his father as “a real John Wayne type” — was a communications specialist who opened fire on his brothers at a stress clinic.

War is, inevitably hell, but there is nothing inevitable about this surge in military suicide.

Even the vice chief-of-staff of the Army, Peter Chiarelli, has cited long deployments in Iraq — and the sadistic Bush/Cheney “stop-loss” policy — as a huge factor in this suicide spike. And Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has laid it on the table with typical candor: “It’s tragic. I mean, It’s deeply disturbing, but I don’t think folks who have been in the [war] theater are surprised,” He says: “One in four folks come back [from war] with some kind of stress-related mental health injury. But these folks are going back over and over again,” he said. “Each time you’re deployed, you’re more likely to have a mental health disability.”

Sgt. Russell — the John Wayne type — had been in Iraq for four rotations, a total of 54 months, in a hell we created for absolutely no good reason — a hell we are dismantling with amazing slowness — a hell to which we continue to consign young people every day.

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Arizona, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, says the military needs to reach out to military personnel who may be suffering from combat stress. “We simply cannot wait for our men and women serving in the military, or our nation’s veterans transitioning back to civilian life, to come to us. We need to go to them,” he said recently.

Yes, by all means: we need to go to them. But it doesn’t seem like a priority to America’s government or media.

After all, Memorial Day is over.



Friends died together on Navy SEAL mission when helicopter was shot down in ‘lucky shot’



Lives lost: Lt Cmdr Jonas Kelsall (above) and Chief Petty Officer Robert James Reeves (below), both Shreveport, Louisiana natives who were killed when a U.S. Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on Saturday

  • Military officials believe it was most likely a ‘lucky shot’ rather than a new insurgent ability to shoot down aircrafts
  • Taliban ambushed chopper with rocket-propelled grenades, official says
  • Common technique rarely brings down aircraft
  • Fatal attack does not point to increased sophistication of the Taliban
Endurance: Navy Seal Jonas Kelsall, centre, during SEAL Qualification Training at Camp Pendleton in 2001
9th August 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter


U.S. Navy’s SEa, Air and Land Teams, (SEALS) are the U.S. Navy’s principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The name is derived from their capacity to operate at sea, in air or on land, but in the war on terror they have been almost exclusively for land-based operations, such as the storming of Osama bin Laden’s compound.

The Seals were born in the Second World War when the Navy recognised the need for soldiers to take control of landing beaches, note obstacles and defences, and ultimately guide the landing forces in. 

The unit officially became known as the Naval Combat Demolition Unit.

They became Seals in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy, aware of the situations in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerilla warfare.

Units were established to operate from sear, air or land.

The first joint Seals and CIA operations, which are currently being carried in the war on terror, were executed in the Vietnam War.

Since then the SEALS teams have operated in Grenada, the Persian Gulf and Panama.

They were inseparable high school best friends, who stuck together through remarkable triumph – and the bitterest of tragedies.

As the U.S. comes to grips with the deadliest loss of American lives since the war in Afghanistan began, it has emerged that among the 38 brave men who perished were two home town best friends.

Chief Petty Officer Robert James Reeves and Lieutenant Commander Jonas Kelsall, from Shreveport, Louisiana, both mastered extreme trials to gain their places on Seal Team 6, the elite unit which killed Osama Bin Laden just three months ago.

They had excelled at high school together before enlisting and being sent to Afghanistan, where the pair were assigned the same mission, placed in the same helicopter – and died together when the Chinook was shot down in an attack on Saturday morning.

Military officials in Afghanistan believe that it was most likely a ‘lucky shot’ rather than marking a new insurgent ability to shoot down aircrafts.

Mr Reeves, 32, joined the elite Seal team in 1999. He had been best friends with Mr Kelsall, who enlisted soon after, since his freshman year of high school.

‘He was always very gregarious, a star soccer and lacrosse player in high school,’ Mr Reeves’s father, James Reeves, told the New York Times.

It had never been obvious to me that he was going to choose a military career. It is very difficult to make it on these Seal teams. But that was where he knew he needed to be.’

In more than a decade of service, Chief Reeves fought in war zones more than a dozen times. He earned four Bronze Stars for bravery, each with a ‘V Device’, signifying valour.

His family last saw him at home for Christmas but even then he refused to speak about the highly secretive specifics of his work, his father said.

The Chinook chopper which crashed early on Saturday morning was on a mission to back up U.S. Army Rangers, who had come under fire by Afghan insurgents in the area.

The team had completed their mission to subdue the attackers, and were departing in the helicopter when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

However, a U.S. official has said news of the deaths does not signify increased sophistication of the Taliban, calling the fatal attack a ‘lucky shot’.

‘We are not seeing it as a game changer,’ an unnamed official told the Telegraph. ‘This was not a new tactic and it wasn’t a new weapon.

A spokesman for the Taliban movement said the craft had been shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) from as close as 150yds in an ambush attack soon after it took off following the raid.

Ambushing aircrafts is a common tactic of insurgents in parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan, making the aircraft vulnerable during take-off.

An Afghan official said on Monday that the Taliban lured US forces into an elaborate trap to shoot down their helicopter.

He said that Taliban commander Qari Tahir lured U.S. forces to the scene by tipping them off that a Taliban meeting was taking place.

He also said four Pakistanis helped Tahir carry out the strike.

‘Now it’s confirmed that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander,’ said the official, citing intelligence gathered from the area.

‘The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take,’ he continued.

‘That’s the only route, so they took position on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons. It was brought down by multiple shots.’

Another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the event while the investigation remains ongoing, said that the Rangers, special operations forces who work regularly with the SEALs, secured the crash site afterwards.

38 people – including 30 American Special Forces troops and eight Afghan soldiers – were killed when the blast brought down the helicopter early Saturday.

Of the 30, 22 Navy SEALs from the elite ‘Team Six’ unit that killed Osama bin Laden lost their lives.

On Sunday, the names of the Americans aboard the chopper began to be released.

Aaron Carson Vaughn, from Tennessee, was a 30-year-old Navy SEAL and the first special ops soldier to be identified in the devastating crash that killed 38 on Friday.

He left behind two children, the couple’s two-year-old son, Reagan, and two-month-old daughter, Chamberlyn.

Widow Kimberly Vaughn saw television reports of the helicopter downed in Afghanistan on Saturday morning, before her doorbell rang and Navy officers told her that her husband was killed in action.

In spite of her pain-staking grief, she said her husband ‘wouldn’t want to leave this Earth any other way than how he did’ – making the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

‘He loved his job,’ she told CNN. ‘There was no way – even if you could tell him that this would have happened he would have done it anyway. All those men are like that. They’re selfless.’

It was just hours before the fatal mission Vaughn had called his wife, and spoke to his son for the last time.

‘It was actually a great conversation – probably just about time before he went out to work that night,’ she remembered. ‘We got to tell each other we loved each other, so it was a great conversation to have.’

Soon after, the tragedy came to her doorstep.

‘I thought, “Oh, hopefully it’s just a neighbour,” and as I rounded the stairs I saw the men in uniform and I just fell to my knees. There’s no preparing for it. It’s something you see in the movies. It’s not something you’re supposed to live through.

‘I fell to my knees and cried and didn’t want to hear it, but it’s the truth,’ she remembered. ‘You want it to be a mistake. You want them to say it’s the wrong person, but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.’

A family from the Philadelphia area was devastated to learn their son, Navy SEAL Michael Strange, was also killed.

His father, Charles Strange told CBS Philly: ‘He was intense, he was funny, he had that dry humour, like Seinfeld.’

Sgt Patrick Hamburger, a Navy SEAL from Lincoln, Nebraska, spoke to his family back home before the mission.

He told his brother that he wouldn’t be in touch because his team ‘had stuff to do.’

Kevin Houston of Chesapeake, Virginia, died while living his dream.

The 36-year-old had wanted to be a SEAL since he was a toddler, friends told The Boston Globe.

Grieving parents in Jacksonville, Florida, confirmed to the Jacksonville Daily News that their son, Navy SEAL Chris Campbell, was on the chopper when it was shot down.

Another SEAL, Jon Tumilson, of Rockford, Iowa, perished in the crash, his father said.

Spencer C Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, was serving as a door gunner on the doomed chopper when it was brought down.

Air Force Tech Sgt John W. Brown of Arkansas, a paramedic whose unit was attached to the Navy SEALs, made the ultimate sacrifice.

Kraig Vickers, a Navy bomb disposal team member, of Haiku, Maui, also died in the attack.

Childhood friend Mike Labuanan of Wailuku told Hawaii News Now Vickers was planning to return to the islands next year.

‘We e-mailed a few times several weeks ago, and he let me know that he was having another child and moving back to Oahu.

‘Kraig is real strong, real smart,’ he said. ‘And he always wanted to do something challenging, so when he said he was going into the Navy, it was only right. It kinda fit his personality.’

Meanwhile, as Nato begins an operation to recover the remains of the large helicopter, an Afghan official says heavy fighting has erupted in the area of the crash.

Wardak provincial spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said Sunday that a joint operation was taking place in the Tangi Joy Zarin area of Sayd Abad district.

He said there were reports of Taliban casualties overnight, but had no additional information.

It was reported last night that the Seals who died in the helicopter crash were not among the 23 who killed Bin Laden.

According to intelligence officials, the 23 SEALs who killed Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan in May had recently returned to Afghanistan from their base in North Carolina.

However, they were members of the same 120-strong SEAL Team Six and would have trained alongside and been close friends with those who carried out the Bin Laden raid.

It was not clear if the Taliban had deliberately targeted the helicopter as an act of revenge.

But its shooting down is bound to be greeted in many parts of the Arab world as terrible vengeance for the death of the Al Qaeda leader.

Reports suggested that seven members of the Afghan National Army, one dog handler, an interpreter and an unknown number of crew were also on board the downed helicopter. Friday night’s attack is the deadliest single incident since the Afghan war began in 2001.

It was also the highest one-day death toll for US Navy Special Warfare personnel since the Second World War. In 2005, 16 Navy Seals and US Army special forces troops died when their helicopter was shot down as they tried to rescue four comrades under attack from the Taliban.

‘A Nato helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province,’ Karzai said in the statement, adding that 31 American special operations troops were killed.

‘President Karzai expressed his deep condolences because of this incident and expressed his sympathy to Barack Obama.’

The Chinook involved in Friday’s attack – a US twin-engined helicopter mainly used to transport troops – was hit by a shoulder-held grenade as it returned from a night raid on a militant gathering in the Tangi Valley in Wardak province, west of Kabul.

The Tangi Valley, dubbed ‘Death Valley’, is known for being one of the most hostile corridors in Afghanistan. The volatile Wardak province is an infamous insurgent stronghold.

The Special Forces unit in the Bin Laden operation, Seal Team Six – known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group – has around 300 members, of whom 120 are commandos. The rest are communications and specialist support troops.

US sources said the troops were being flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire and that wreckage was strewn at the scene.

The tragedy comes as America draws down its presence in Afghanistan and attempts to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan forces. Seven Afghan soldiers were also killed in the crash.

‘Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan,’ he said in a statement, adding that his thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who perished.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: ‘Their courage was exemplary, as was their determination to make this a safer world for their countries and for their fellow citizens. We will stay the course to complete that mission, for which they and all who have served and lost their lives in Afghanistan have made the ultimate sacrifice. They and their families are in my thoughts, in my prayers and in my heart.’

Aircraft crashes are relatively frequent in Afghanistan, where insecurity and difficult terrain make air travel essential for coalition forces transporting troops and equipment.

There have been at least 17 coalition and Afghan aircraft crashes in Afghanistan this year.

In June 2005, 16 American troops were killed when a U.S. helicopter crashed in eastern Kunar province after apparently being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Most of the crashes are attributed to pilot errors, weather conditions or mechanical failures. However, the coalition has confirmed that at least one CH-47F Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade on July 25, injuring two crewmembers.

Meanwhile, Nato troops attacked a house and inadvertently killed eight members of a family, including women and children, in the southern Helmand province, an Afghan government official said Saturday.

Nato said Taliban fighters fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms at coalition troops during a patrol Friday in the Nad Ali district.

The troops fired back, and as the fight escalated an aistrike was called in against the Taliban position, said Brockhoff, the NATO spokesman.

He said Nato sent a delegation to meet with local leaders and investigate the incident.

Nad Ali district police chief Shadi Khan said civilians died in the bombardment but that it was unknown how many insurgents were killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said: ‘The fresh reports from the site tells us that there are still Americans doing search operations for the bodies and pieces of the helicopter are on the ground.’

Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, police chief of Wardak, said the operation began around 1 a.m. Saturday as Nato and Afghan forces attacked a Taliban compound in Jaw-e-mekh Zareen village in the Tangi Valley.


Excluding the latest, and worst, crash, they are:

  •  June 28, 2005: U.S. helicopter is shot down in eastern Kunar province during a rescue operation, killing 16 special operations troops.
  •  April 6, 2005: U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes in a sandstorm near eastern Ghazni, killing 15 American troops and three civilian contractors.
  •  May 5, 2006: U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes while attempting a night landing on a small mountaintop in eastern Kunar province, killing 10 U.S. soldiers.
  • September 21, 2010: U.S. Army Blackhawk crashes in southern Zabul province, killing nine troops on board, including four Navy Seals.
  •  February 18, 2007: U.S. Chinook carrying 22 U.S. soldiers crashes in southern Zabul province, killing eight and injuring 14.

The firefight lasted at least two hours, the general said.

‘It was at the end of the operation that one of the Nato helicopters crashed,’ he said.

‘We don’t know yet the cause of the crash, and we don’t know how many Nato soldiers were on board.’Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is the deadliest province in Afghanistan for international troops.’

Nato has come under harsh criticism in the past for accidentally killing civilians during operations against suspected insurgents.

However, civilian death tallies by the United Nations show the insurgency is responsible for most war casualties involving non-combatants.

Also in the south, Nato said two coalition service member were killed, one on Friday and another on Saturday. The international alliance did not release further details.

The deaths bring to 334 the number of coalition troops killed this year in Afghanistan, and 11 this month.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt Appointed to Investigate Shooting Down Of Helicopter Killing Navy Seals




Before It’s News:  “Where The Pros Report The Real Story Behind The Story”


By Yochi J. Dreazen

August 9, 2011

The Pentagon appointed U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, the deputy commanding general of the Army’s storied 101st Airborne Division, to lead the internal military probe into Saturday’s deadly crash of a U.S. helicopter in eastern Afghanistan.

Colt will investigate all aspects of the failed rescue mission, which resulted in the deaths of 30 American troops—including 22 Navy SEALs—and seven Afghan commandos. The crash caused the biggest single-day loss of life for American forces in Afghanistan and was the worst loss in the history of the U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees the SEALs and other elite units.


Navy SEAL from Texas killed in Afghanistan helicopter attack

8 August 2011

ARLINGTON — The team of Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan this weekend includes an elite fighter from North Texas. Matt Mills was 35.

Michael Mills learned the devastating news Saturday morning when uniformed officers knocked on his parents’ Bastrop door and told him about his brother.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “It was pretty evident that it was serious when they showed up.”

The father of three was on a helicopter shot down by enemy forces Friday night.

“Matt was a proud American. He served his country with pride,” said his cousin, J.B. Abbott. “He loved his brothers that he fought with.”

“He was very humble and never boasted what he did, but he was good at it,” said Mills’ sister, Ashley. “He loved what he did. And he loved his teammates and brothers.”

Mills looked up to his grandfather because the veteran enlisted with the Marines after the attack on Pearl Harbor — a decision that motivated Mills to chase his goals.

“He did what he wanted to do,” Abbott said. “He always wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Just love him very much. I’m proud of him.”

The Texas native got married just a few months ago. He and his wife, Keri have a 1-year-old son in Virginia.

Mills also leaves behind a 13-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son from a previous marriage in Oklahoma.

Mills was planning to come home in October to attend his sister’s wedding in Dallas, but he wasn’t planning on retiring any time soon.

He wanted to serve six more years with the Navy.

Mills enlisted in the Navy nearly 14 years ago, serving first on the USS Kinkaid, but he accomplished his dream 10 years ago when he became a member of the Navy SEALs.

The chief petty officer has served in at least one mission in Iraq and Afghanistan every year for the past 10 years. He never talked about his secret missions, but he was extremely proud.

Mills graduated from James Martin High School in Arlington.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Family and friends are also planning to hold private memorials in Oklahoma, Virginia and Central Texas.


The Truth About Pat Tillman: Murder Is Not “Friendly Fire”

Once again, the Administration is pulling the old magician’s trick of misdirection, this time in the Pat Tillman case. And once again, the press is falling for it. Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers focused on “what they knew and when” — to borrow the Watergate phrase — rather than the core issue at the heart of the Pat Tillman matter, which is this:

Pat Tillman was almost certainly murdered, and fratricide is not “friendly fire.”

Yet a Google News search on the terms “Tillman” and “friendly fire” yielded 1,044 hits today, all from the last 24 hours. That’s after the facts behind the fratricide are widely known – and after a number of clues that suggest the entire command structure, from the White House on down, concealed a murder from the public and took no steps to investigate it.

There’s your story.

Friendly fire is commonly understood to mean the accidental death of a U. S. soldier through weapons fired by U.S. or allied troops. (See this definition.) The facts in the Tillman case make friendly fire highly unlikely. He died from three bullet holes grouped together in his forehead, fired from a M-16 that was no more than ten yards away.

Three bullet holes. In the forehead. From a M-16. That was ten yards away.

That’s not “friendly fire.” That’s murder. (Unless Cpl. Tillman stood up in the path of another soldier’s fire, took three hits precisely in the forehead, then fell before being hit again.)

As abhorrent as it was for the Administration to delay telling the family, the handling of the fratricide question was even worse. A killer’s trail went cold. Now we may never know the truth.

As for the narrative that Rumsfeld and Myers offered yesterday, let’s look at it in detail – together with the known facts:

1. Pat Tillman dies. Medical examiners request a fratricide investigation sometime thereafter. Their request is denied.

2. Gen. McChrystal sends a cable to Gen. Abizaid and another general on April 22 urging them to notify the President of this probable fratricide “in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country’s leaders which might cause embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman’s death becomes public.”

3. Gen.Abizaid claims he didn’t receive it for 10 or 12 days, because he was in Iraq. (They don’t have email, or even secure pouches for urgent memos?) Defense Department records later show that Gen. Abizaid was not in Iraq, but was actually in Qatar and Afghanistan –where the killing occurred – during that 10 to 12 days.

4. Gen. Myers learns the true nature of Cpl. Tillman’s death in late April, yet – according to his testimony – did not feel the need to inform either the Secretary of Defense or the President.

5. Military records show that dozens of officers knew of the true nature of the Lieutenant’s death within days, yet senior officers and Pentagon officials still maintain they didn’t know for weeks. (Surprisingly, they did not undertake a massive review of military procedures in order to determine how such a massive series of communications failures could occur – one that eerily affected every single senior officer with responsibility for this case simultaneously.)

6. The military continues to press the story that Tillman was killed while courageously leading a counterattack in an Afghan mountain pass. (Nice poetic touch, that “mountain pass” – good for recruitment.)

7. A national memorial service is held for Cpl Tillman several days later. The President and others talk about Cpl. Tillmans heroism in that mythical mountain pass – yet Gen. Myers, per his own testimony, still felt no need to inform either the SecDef or the President . 8. Rumsfeld says he was not told the truth until “some time after May 20,” or approximately a month after Gen. Myers learned of the incident. Yet he seems strangely undisturbed to learn that the truth was known six weeks earlier and he wasn’t informed.

9. Neither Rumsfeld nor the President felt the need to correct the record publicly upon learning the truth.

10. It wasn’t until reporters filed a Freedom of Information Act that the following information became public on July 27: “”Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime.”

Let’s say it again, to be very clear: The White House and Pentagon withheld the facts about this killing until they were legally forced to reveal them months later by Freedom of Information laws. And they never ordered a criminal investigation.

As for the testimony by Myers and Rumsfeld: What they have described is a command structure that was brutally indifferent to the situation on the ground and uninterested in pursuing a murder. Gen. Myers, if he is to be believed, allowed the President and Secretary of Defense to pay tribute to a man as if he had died in combat, knowing full well their words were untrue.

Is that plausible, with everything we know about Rumsfeld? Remember, this is the micromanager who hectored generals on little details, arrogantly told them he knew more than they did about the military, and issued regular memos to a wide range of Pentagon personnel on a variety of topics, great and small.

We are also supposed to believe that Rumsfeld was so uninvolved in the human issues his troops faced that he wasn’t informed of the facts on this case – and that once he found out, he was unconcerned about the delay in telling him the facts. And that the President wasn’t disturbed enough to order an investigation into the killing. Nor did he or Rumsfeld inform the family, or the nation, that they had been misled – at a hero’s funeral.

As the conservatives used to say in the 90’s: Character matters. And that’s if they’re telling the truth … Can you imagine what we could learn about their character if, as is very possible, they’re still lying?

And make no mistake, the beat goes on:

“What doesn’t make sense,” (Rep) Waxman said, is that while there were hundreds of e-mails among 97 White House officials in the days after Tillman’s death, there were none after the Pentagon announced he had been killed by friendly fire.”

Waxman has concluded, reasonably enough, that it’s very likely there is still an ongoing and systematic White House attempt to hide the truth about Cpl. Tillman’s death. Nevertheless, the main media narrative appears to be “Rummy looked great and did well.” And that Pat Tillman died from “friendly fire.”

What else can anyone say? Except, of course, to thank Cpl. Tillman for his sacrifice – and promise to find the truth for his memory.

Col. James Sabow “Suicide”: Forensic Evidence Supports Murder Thesis 15th March 2010

Col. James Sabow “Suicide”: Forensic Evidence Supports Murder Thesis

15th March 2010
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Forensic Evidence Supports Marine’s Murder

Col. James Sabow “Suicide”: Forensic Evidence Supports Murder Thesis | The Alex Constantine Anti Fascist Encyclopedia

by Robert ODowd || March 3, 2010126421527221 Col. James Sabow Suicide: Forensic Evidence Supports Murder ThesisColonel James Sabow, USMC. Former attorney supervisor in Orange County District Attorney’s office said the Marine officer was injured by a blow to the head, and while unconscious suffered a shotgun blast in the mouth. U.S. Justice Department passed responsibility to California.  Jerry Brown, California’s Attorney General, needs to pursue investigation.

(IRVINE, CA) – The murder of Colonel James Sabow is the story of the loss of our country’s moral compass.  Mounting evidence strongly indicates that “Thou shall not kill” was ignored to support the Contra War in Nicaragua and to protect the “butts” of those involved in bringing cocaine into the U.S. on former military aircraft.

The overwhelming forensic evidence supports murder of a senior Marine Officer to prevent him from ‘telling all’ at a courts martial.

In an unexpected move, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) passed jurisdiction to the state of California almost 4 years ago.  No action has been taken by Orange County where former Marine Corps Base El Toro, CA, is located.

The murder of Colonel James Sabow, Assistant Chief Staff, MCAS El Toro, CA, on January 22, 1991, was done in his quarters on a major Marine Corps base. The Orange County coroner ruled suicide before an investigation was completed.  Subsequent independent investigations by scientific experts support murder. As expected, investigations by the Navy and the Department of Defense supported suicide.

Oliver Stone, check your voice mail!  The Colonel Sabow story has all of the right ingredients for an Academy award winner.  Marines, drugs, war, murder, CIA, government cover-up to name a few.  It even has a made to order hero.  He may not be comfortable with this, but Dr. David Sabow, brother of Col. Sabow, is the one who has carried this fight for almost 20 years.

Dr. David Sabow, South Dakota neurologist, has devoted years to investigating the murder of his older brother.  He’s spent several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, private investigators, and much of his own time and energy.  Now in physically poor health, he’s confined to a wheel chair and no longer in medical practice.

In his own words, “he became suspicious of foul play due to a number of inconsistencies. He shared his concerns with the NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service], as well as a number of senior Marine Corps officers. He became ever more suspicious when relevant documents, including the autopsy report were denied him by the Marine Corps.

Having become aware of Dr. Sabow’s concerns, El Toro base commander, Brig. General Tom Adams summoned him to El Toro for a meeting. Dr. Sabow accompanied by Sally Sabow, the Colonel’s widow, sat through a 5-hour vicious and grueling session. Dr. Sabow was assured that Colonel William Lucas who was the chief legal officer at El Toro at the time his brother’s death, would be present to answer pertinent questions that bothered the Sabow family.

However, in his place, Colonel Wayne Rich, a Reserve Marine Corps officer, took his place. Wayne Rich turned out to be a special Assistant Attorney General from Washington and he dominated the meeting.

Both General Adams and Colonel Rich accused Colonel Sabow of being a “crook and felon” while two other Marine Corps generals in attendance, David Shuter and J.K. Davis remained silent. This, in spite of their glowing “Fitness Reports” of Colonel Sabow during his almost three decade career. Furthermore,  the  representatives  of  the  NCIS,  as  well  as  General  Adams and Colonel Rich, repeatedly stated: “There was not one shred of evidence, other than that proving, that Colonel Sabow committed suicide.”

For the most part, Congressional committees have not been interested in Colonel Sabow’s death or in any testimony from Dr. Sabow.

Dr. Sabow told us one instance where he was cut off from making remarks before a Congressional committee, “I was accompanied by Danny Sheehan [his attorney] on Sept 12, 1996, when I gave time restricted testimony at a Senate hearing chaired by Senator Dirk Kempthorn (R-Idaho). Following statements proffered by me and several others about military suicides, the various heads of criminal investigations for all the branches of the armed services gave their unrestricted “speeches” about how thorough they were. After they were finished Dirk Kempthorn invited each and everyone of them to make a closing statement. I was incensed that they had all the time they wanted for their addresses and now were given even more time of which they all took advantage. After they finished, I tried to stand and demand equal time for rebuttal. Kempthorn banged his gavel louder and louder to get me to be quiet. I refused but in the excitement I fell to the ground. I could not get up. Danny knelt next to me. Kempthorn and several other Senators walked off the elevated dais toward the audience which took several of them right past me. Not only did they not stop to help me, but Kempthorn and some others stopped 10 or 15 feet from where I was on the floor and started a conversation with General Krulack, CMC. I could not help but notice Krulack and others glance at me on the floor. Two big security guards arrived with a wheelchair a few minutes later and stayed with me until they helped me into a taxi outside the Hart Senate Building. Both were large, strapping black men who complimented me on my testimony.”

The Marine Corps has a proud tradition of never leaving anyone behind.  The tragic death of Colonel James Sabow gave an entirely different meaning to Semper Fidelis.  Colonel Sabow never gave any serious thought that his life and that of his family were at risk.  He was an outstanding Marine fighter pilot.  By all accounts, he was general officer material.

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, on August 5, 1939, Colonel Sabow was by every conceivable measure a highly successful Marine Corps officer with every reason to live.  One of three boys whose father had been an Army flight surgeon in WW II, he graduated from Georgetown University in 1962 and was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1963.  Married to the same woman for twenty-three years, the father of two children, he was in excellent physical and mental condition and at the time of his death was worth an estimated two to three million dollars according to his brother. After receiving his wings, he was assigned to an A-6 Intruder squadron in Vietnam, flew 221 combat missions, earning the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and 15 Air Medals.  All of his Marine Corps fitness reports were outstanding.

There’s no question that if his life was in danger, he would have been prepared to defend himself.  Since he was in government quarters on a Marine Corps base, he made the tragic mistake of letting his guard down and not taking his own advice.  In the later part of 1987, Colonel Sabow, concerned about the use of drugs at El Toro and Tustin, asked Captain Pete Barbee, a Mustang [former enlisted Marine], to investigate the use of drugs on the base but “not to trust anyone.”  Had he taken his own advice he may have been alive today.

General David Shuter gave a glowing eulogy of Colonel Sabow, in which he described him as a man “without compromise,” one of the few who could give himself fully to the Corps and country and simultaneously to his family. He also described Sabow by all those in the Corps who knew him as the “straightest of straight arrows.”

Contra War

During the Reagan administration, a civil war or Contra war raged in Nicaragua, pitting the left-wing Sandinista regime against CIA-financed Contra rebels.  The war covered the period roughly from 1981 to 1990.

A series of CIA supported acts of sabotage without Congressional intelligence committees approval led to the passage of the Boland Amendment, which cut off appropriated funding for the Contras.

The funding of the Contra war was secured by the sale of drugs, especially cocaine which spread to epidemic proportions in the U.S. with the introduction of cheap crack cocaine in the inner cities.

For the most part, our government looked the other way, allowing the drugs to be sold, killing an untold number of citizens.  Many of these were black Americans from the ghettos.  If you’re still unsure, just ask Congresswomen Maxine Waters, (D, CA).  She can tell you from personal experience the tragic impact crack cocaine had on black Americans in Los Angeles.

“Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters knows all too well the disastrous health effects on those to become addicted to crack cocaine.  According to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “The time I spent investigating the allegations of the “Dark Alliance” series [Gary Webb’s account reported in the San Jose Mercury News in 1996]  led me to the undeniable conclusion that the CIA, DEA, DIA, and FBI knew about drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles.  They were either part of the trafficking or turned a blind eye to it, in an effort to fund the Contra war.  I am convinced that drug money played an important role in the Contra war and that drug money was used by both sides.”

Dr. Sabow met with Maxine Waters in 1996.  He told us that: “I  appeared with Maxine Waters at a rally that was organized by a group headed by Mike Rupert. The group flew me to LAX and drove me to a small house in South Central where I met others who were to speak at the rally on the following day. We spoke from the steps of the LA Municipal Bldg (I call it the Dragnet Building) and then marched in downtown LA for a few blocks. The park in front of the Municipal building was crowded with people from South Central. Still being naive, I thought it quite odd that the LA Times did not cover it to any significant degree. It was at this time that I met Cellerino Castillo. Celli showed me photographs of C-130 aircraft at the Ilipango Air force Base in El Salvador being loaded with drugs. He was the chief DEA agent in all of Central America at the time. He tried to blow the whistle and was blackballed and ruined. I had a long talk with him at that house on the night before the rally. Maxine Waters made a stink about the Drug issue when she returned to Washington. John Deutsch was DCI under Clinton and he sent his IG out to LA. After he returned Deutsch made a statement that there was no foundation whatsoever that the CIA was involved in drug trafficking or knew anything about such activity (surprise, surprise).”

The sad truth is that thousands of African-Americans in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego, Baltimore, and other urban centers became addicted to crack cocaine, lost their minds, were incarcerated, and died from overdoses.

Guns Down and Drugs Up

Former military aircraft leased to CIA proprietary companies transported guns to Central America.  On the return trips, these aircraft carried  cocaine into the U.S.  MCAS El Toro was one of the bases in the ‘80s and early ‘90s used to offload the cocaine and service these civilian  aircraft.

cocaine airways 1700877 402 Col. James Sabow Suicide: Forensic Evidence Supports Murder Thesis Tosh Plumlee in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, mid-1980s

Based on interviews with William Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, a former CIA contract pilot, Nick Schou, OC Weekly reporter, wrote about the secret flights into El Toro and the ‘suicide’ of Colonel Sabow in September 2006.  See: “Cocaine Airways” at

According to Nick Schou, “All of Plumlee’s landings were late at night, and the unmarked airplanes—massive C-130 cargo carriers—were painted dark green. And though Plumlee landed at military installations, the men who unloaded his planes were dressed just as he was—in civilian attire, sporting long hair. Plumlee says he guesses they could have easily passed for drug dealers.”

Plumlee told Schou that the “the pilots officially worked for civilian air charters under contract to the CIA, including the infamous Southern Air Transport and Evergreen International Airlines. He was always paid in cash, usually about $5,000 per flight. Once he landed at El Toro, Plumlee says, he’d taxi the C-130 to the southwest side of the field, close to Interstate 5.  “I had long hair in those days—bushy hair,” he says. “I looked like a drug runner. There was nobody in uniform offloading our aircraft. I figured they were CIA spooks. When you see people like that on a military base in the early morning, unloading, I say that’s CIA. It’s an assumption on my part, but it is based on a preponderance of evidence.”

Apparently, the Marine Corps Inspector General knew something about the misuse of former government aircraft, too.  In January 1991, Lieutenant General Davison, the Marine Corps IG, arrived at MCAS El Toro, skipped the entrance conference with Brigadier General Tom Adams, El Toro’s Commanding General, and went immediately to Building No. 53.  He asked for the data processing file on civilian aircraft (containing records for refueling and other servicing of civilian aircraft at El Toro).  The file had been purged.

According to Dr. Sabow, Colonel Sabow would have known of the ‘legal’ shipment of weapons to Central America, but not the use of these aircraft to illegally carry cocaine into the U.S.

After the IG arrived at El Toro, Colonel Sabow was relieved of command for a minor infraction of carrying personal items to his son while making a routine flight on board a military aircraft.

“Retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Major General J.K. Davis said that any pilot who had ever flown in the military would be canned had they been held to the same standards as the allegations against Colonel Sabow,” according to David Hoffman in “Semper Fidelis: “The Story of Colonel James E. Sabow.”  See:

Dr Sabow said that when Colonel Sabow learned of the illegal shipment of cocaine in January 1991 from Colonel Joseph Underwood, his immediate boss and Chief of Staff, MCAS El Toro and next door neighbor, he objected and told Underwood that he would choose to tell all at a courts martial rather than retire early under a cloud.  In refusing to retire early, Colonel Sabow unknowingly signed his own death warrant.

Sara Sabow said that the night before her husband was killed Colonel Underwood,  pointing his finger in Colonel Sabow’s face said, “You will never see a courts-martial.”  He was right.  Colonel Sabow was murdered the next morning.

Forensic Evidence

As part of his effort to document the scientific support for murder Dr. Sabow and Bryan R. Burnett, Meixa Tech, Cardiff, Ca, wrote a paper entitled, “Pathological and Physiological Principles of Instantaneous Death: How It Can Help Distinguish Suicide from Homicide” as part of the effort to document the murder of Colonel Sabow.   See:

In the paper’s abstract, Dr. Sabow and Burnett wrote that: “The body of a Marine Corps officer was discovered lying on a 12 gauge shotgun in the backyard of his home. Naval Investigative Service personnel identified an intraoral wound and immediately informed the base commander and the victim’s family that the death was a suicide. The following day an autopsy was performed and death certificate issued, designating death as suicide. The purpose of this paper is two-fold: to distinguish the difference between instantaneous and sudden death and its application in distinguishing homicide from suicide and, secondly, to propose that the death certificate in any  unwitnessed traumatic death should be considered a preliminary document until there is comprehensive evaluation of all evidence. The correct conclusion of death in this case requires understanding of physiologic principles which determine when death is instantaneous as opposed to sudden. If the initial trauma to the officer was the shotgun wound, then death had to have been instantaneous. However, autopsy results, skull x-rays and crime scene evidence demonstrate that death was sudden but not instantaneous. The initial trauma was a fatal blow to the back of the head causing a depressed skull fracture behind the right ear. Therefore, the manner of death was homicide not suicide.”

Evidence supporting homicide:

Crime Scene, MCAS El Toro, January 22, 1991

  • Talked on phone at 8:20 AM with Capt. McBride
  • Watching tv when received anonymous phone call at 8:30 AM
  • Death occurred between 8:34 AM and 9 AM
  • Placed tv on “mute”
  • Took dogs from backyard and put them in garage
  • FLIGHT RECORDS-no take-offs from 8:30-9 AM
  • Next door neighbor “didn’t hear shotgun blast”
  • Underwood greets visitor at Sabow front yard at 9:15 AM, states “Sabow not at home” later states “I was going over to see Col. Sabow”
  • Between 9:20-9:30 wife discovers body in yard
  • Feels large swelling on back of head
  • Runs next door, yells “Jimmy is dead”.
  • Col. Underwood runs to gate between yards and observes body about 40 to 50 feet away
  • Calls Gen Adams, says “Jimmy is dead. He shot himself in the mouth”.
  • Joan Underwood yells,”Joe, this has gone too far!”

  • Blood evidence-volume, stain and pattern
  • Body and gun position
  • Lump on back of head, blood clot between skull and scalp
  • Depressed skull fracture
  • Total destruction of brainstem
  • Lungs filled with aspirated blood
  • Fingerprint evidence


  • No suicide note
  • devout Catholic
  • loved family
  • financially stable

Intimidation Tactics Used on Others

The use of intimation to scare people has been used since the beginning of time.  Cain may have even resorted to this before killing Abel.

Gary Null in an internet article, “The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow” described documentation sent to Dr. Sabow from a Marine Corps source that supports the attempt to intimidate Dr. Sabow and the Colonel’s widow during the March 9th meeting:

“The most damaging evidence was a five-page hand-written summary by Wayne Rich. By this time, David knew that Rich was an Assistant Attorney General from Washington, who replaced Colonel Lucas at the March 9 meeting. These notes were written by Rich during a telephone conversation with the deputy SJA in Washington, Colonel Lang, on the day before the El Toro meeting, and included statements such as: “We are about to try to convince Sabow’s brother that his brother was a crook and so big a crook…”

“The packet also contained an order from one legal officer to another regarding the investigation of ways to have Dr. Sabow’s medical license revoked.”

“There was also a copy of a memorandum written by the head legal officer, SJA Colonel Lucas. The memorandum was in reference to the peculiar behavior of Lieutenant General Hollis Davison, the Inspector General of the Marine Corps, during an investigation into Colonel Sabow and Colonel Underwood at El Toro from January 10 until January 17, 1991, days before the murder. Lucas talked about the repetitiveness of the Inspector General’s questions, and his peculiar behavior while conducting his interviews. The last paragraph of Lucas’ memorandum stated that he put this into his personal files to protect himself for the future. He stated that if the Inspector General’s behavior became public, it would be very bad for the Marine Corps.”

“There was also a memorandum from Captain McBride to Colonel Lucas. The memo reported conversations between McBride and Dr. Sabow. This order was from Rich or Adams ordering McBride to divulge confidential information, and violated the trust of the attorney-client relationship.”

“The packet also included transcribed responses of “witnesses” interviewed by the IG in an attempt to depict Colonel Sabow’s misconduct. There was a glaring omission in the transcription–the questions asked of those “witnesses.” Dr. Sabow learned that at least one person interviewed, Major Bob Friend, would not sign the transcript because the statements did not reflect his responses.

Tosh Plumlee, the former CIA pilot who told of drugs into El Toro, knows from experience the intimidation tactics used to keep you from talking.  In a 2006 interview with Nick Schou of the OC Weekly, Tosh said he’s been beaten, shot at, and stopped on the street by strangers who flashed ’badges’ who told him. “We just want to let you know that you’re being investigated for making false allegations against the government.

After being attacked in Evergreen, Colorado, Tosh said, “I got pretty well beat up and the Evergreen Police Department never showed up Plumlee says. “And I drove home and that’s when I see my house is on fire.” Neighbors were able to retrieve Plumlee’s dogs from the house, but most of his belongings—including his documents and partially written manuscript—went up in flames. “There was a hole in the window, and accelerant was all over the place,” he says. “It was firebombed. Who was behind it? Was it the CIA? The Cubans? I have no idea.”

The ultimate intimation is death.  Tom Wade, the young Marine sergeant who reported the file purged to the Marine Corps IG in January ‘91, was later transferred to a base in Florida and killed execution style with two shots to the back of his head on Christmas Eve several years later.  His six year old daughter was found by an elderly couple the next morning, crying in the back seat of her father’s car.  Nothing was taken from his car or his person.  A follow-up call to the local police by Dr. Sabow revealed that Tom Wade’s apartment was sealed by military authorities who cited national security as the reason for securing the area for several days.

In November 1996, a patient of Dr. Sabow signed an affidavit stating that she had been pressured by someone claiming to be a DEA agent who told her that if she agreed to assist them in the prosecution that no charges would be brought against her for altering prescription refills.  She refused to cooperate since Dr. Sabow had not done anything wrong. Portions of the affidavit are redacted to protect the identity of the patient and others:

“_____________I am presently a patient of John David Sabow, M.D. I have been a patient of Dr. Sabow’s for these purposes as far back as l994.”

“In March of 1994, I received a prescription form Dr. Sabow, which I subsequently altered so as to increase the number of refills that I could obtain from the drugstore. In In JuIy of 1994, I needed to speak to Dr. Sabow and he was out of town. I then went to the emergency room and they gave me a prescription which I subsequently altered also.  However, I took the prescription from the emergency room to the drug store and the druggist on duty________________noted that I had altered the prescription____________________called the emergency room physician and subsequently the police. I was arrested. When my case came before Judge__________________, he dismissed the charges for a failure to properly state a violation of a crime.  A month later, I received a letter indicating that the matter had been dropped.”

“A year later in 1995, I received a telephone call from a gentleman representing himself as a DEA agent. He claimed that I had witnessed a crime and wanted to know if he could come to my house to discuss the same. I consented and gave him directions to my home. He showed up with another agent and once they got into my home, one agent took my husband in one room and another agent took me in another room and began to interrogate me.”

“They indicated that they had a list of all of the prescriptions that I have obtained in the last five years. The list was quite lengthy. On the list, they had certain prescriptions circled or identified.”

“The agents then advised me that I had five possible felonies and that if I wanted to assist them in the prosecution of Dr. Sabow, they would see to it that no charges were brought against me. I told the agents that I could not enter into such an agreement because if I did so, I would be lying. I am not addicted to any medication. Even if I were, it would not be Dr. Sabow’s fault and I so informed the agents.”

“In December of 1995, I received a telephone call from the…sheriff asking me to come into his office.  When I arrived, I was presented with a warrant for my arrest.”

“I posted a $750 bond and in April of 1996, the matter was resolved when I plea bargained and eventually pled guilty to one of the two counts. By this time, the state had identified and discovered the alterations that I had made on the emergency room prescription, as well as on the prescription I received from Dr. Sabow. I was fined and put on two years, probation. It was my understanding in the plea bargain that a plea of guilty would take care of any and all prior offenses that had to do with prescription drugs and or narcotics. In November of 1996, I was again contacted by the same DEA agents.  They came to my home; however, this time when they asked for permission to come in, I refused. we conducted our conversations and business on the front porch. The DEA agents again informed me that they had access to at least five felonies concerning drugs and that I was in no position to refuse to assist them since they were cognizant or aware of the fact that I was presently on probation. The agents again advised me that they wanted my assistance so as to get Dr. Sabow (who is the individual they claim had prescribed the medication and caused my alleged addiction). I again told them that I would have no part in this type of discussion and I asked them to leave.”

Justice Dept. Gives California Jurisdiction

The U.S. Department of Justice is content with the official questionable suicide finding and passing off the jurisdictional responsibility to State of California, even though the crime was committed on Federal property.

The State of California and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appear to be playing a kind of jurisdictional musical chairs and the only one left standing is Dr. Sabow.

It’s obvious that neither the state of California or the DOJ wants anything to do with investigating the murder of Colonel Sabow.  The Orange County coroner performed the autopsy and signed the death certificate in January 1991.  The cause of death was suicide according to the coroner.

Subsequent investigation by a number of independent medical experts of the forensic evidence concluded that homicide was the cause of death.

The California Bureau of Investigation under the Attorney General’s office advised Dr. Sabow on December 26, 2002, that “as you are aware a determination was made several years ago the state of California has no jurisdiction to conduct an investigation as the result of Colonel Sabow’s death having occurred on property under the jurisdiction of military authorities.”

Almost 5 years later, the DOJ in a letter of July 6, 2007, to Congressman Duncan Hunter passed the buck back to the California Attorney General.  According to the DOJ, “…the investigation of his death appears to be a state matter and not within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.  Dr. David Sabow may wish to direct his inquiry to the Attorney General’s Office for the State of California and other state law enforcement authorities for further assistance.”

Attorneys Agree Colonel Murdered

Michael A. Jacobs, attorney and retired supervisor of the Orange County District Attorney’s Homicide Trials Division, believes that homicide is supported by the (1) compressed fracture to the right rear occipital skull and the resulting hemorrhaging beneath the skull and (2) the large amount of aspirated blood found in the alveoli of Colonel Sabow’s lungs.  Mr. Jacobs concluded in a letter to Congressman Duncan Hunter that “Colonel Sabow’s death could not have been a suicide but had to have been a homicide inflicted by the hands of another.”

Additional support comes from Lt. Col. Anthony Verducci, a Marine Corps JAG [attorney] who was stationed at MCAC El Toro in 1991.  In a letter to Dr. Sabow, Verducci said, “I have reviewed x-rays, crimes scene photos, and letters submitted by forensic pathologists and other experts about Col. Sabow’s death…these materials lead me to believe that Colonel Sabow did not die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound [my emphasis].  As a Marine, former prosecutor, and citizen, I believe that an impartial law enforcement agency must review this case.”

California’s Attorney General Needs to Investigate

Jerry Brown, check your email.  Jerry Brown, the California Attorney General has a well deserved reputation for taking on tough issues.  Dr. Sabow and several world class scientists are willing to provide whatever information you need to conduct an independent investigation of Colonel Sabow’s death.  The Justice Department passed the responsibilty for investigation to California; Orange County authorities have not pursued the investigation.  Colonel Sabow’s death may be a ‘cold case’ but, there’s no statute of limitation on murder.




By Gary Null

The official version of the colonel’s death just doesn’t add up. So his brother is left asking a number of questions: What happened? Is it possible that elements of every major department of government could have been involved in either incompetence or intentional malfeasance, including a coordinated coverup? And if the latter is the case, what could have been the motive?

Note: The information on this website is not a substitute for
diagnosis and treatment by a qualified, licensed professional.

On the morning of January 22, 1991, neurologist Dr. David Sabow received a telephone call while he was at work in his office. The call was one that would change his life forever, and change his outlook on the integrity of parts of this country’s military and political systems. It was from a Marine Corps chaplain, informing him that his older brother, Colonel James E. Sabow, had just committed suicide. At first, Dr. Sabow could not process the information. His thoughts were continually interrupted by snapshots of his brother Jimmy’s life. And there was also this: David knew his brother so very well, and suicide was completely out of character for the man. Jimmy Sabow was a well-respected, highly intelligent, and extremely talented Marine officer, a man who had the ability to work as hard as he played and who demonstrated a strong devotion to his family. David recalls, “He was, without exaggeration, one of the best balanced individuals I’ve met in my life. So, I was immediately taken aback by the designation of suicide, simply because I knew my brother inside and out.”

As it turned out, there were logical holes in the official account of Colonel Sabow’s so-called suicide. These, combined with the discrepancy between what Dr. Sabow knew his brother to be and the idea of the man committing suicide, led Dr. Sabow into an investigation of his brother’s death. He knew in his heart he could do no less.

Colonel Sabow’s “suicide” and its aftermath have turned up far-ranging ramifications. As this special in-depth investigation will show, an unreported secret network of CIA agents was involved in illicit drug traffic from Mena, Arkansas, and dozens of other small airports around the country, the illegal sale of C-130 aircraft from the Forest Service, and the untimely deaths of investigative reporters and pilots. These agents were also involved with one of the largest drug trafficking operations coming into the country and illegal arms going out of the country.

Events Leading to Colonel Sabow’s Death

Dr. Sabow begins his account of the events preceding his brother’s death in late 1990. That was when Chief of Staff Colonel Joseph Underwood came under investigation, allegedly as the result of an anonymous phone call to the Department of Defense’s fraud and abuse hotline. While Colonel Sabow was in Minneapolis due to a family crisis, he received a phone call from Colonel Underwood. They discussed the fact that the Inspector General of the Marine Corps, Hollis Davison, and three assistants, had arrived on base, in El Toro, California. Underwood stated that he (Underwood) was under investigation for the illegal use of government aircraft.

After the call, Colonel Sabow explained to his brother David that Underwood’s investigation probably had to do with taking some golf clubs along on a training flight. When David asked if this was a serious offense, Jimmy replied that it wasn’t; it was, in fact, rather commonplace. When you went out on a training flight, he explained to the doctor, you took equipment with you. If you played tennis, you took tennis rackets; if you read, you took books; and if you were a golfer, you took golf clubs. Jimmy went on to explain that Colonel Underwood was a champion golfer who played in Marine Corps tournaments. At this point, James did not seem to be overly concerned.

The Inspector General’s visit took place in the middle of Operation Desert Shield and right at the beginning of Desert Storm. Why the Marine Corps would send the Inspector General’s team to the California base at that particular time to investigate Underwood for taking golf clubs along on a flight remains a mystery, for, after all, Underwood was chief of staff.

On January 12, 1991, Colonel Underwood was relieved of his duties as chief of staff. A day later, Colonel Sabow returned to El Toro, and learned of Underwood’s dismissal. He called his close friend Bill Callahan. Both men were sure that something else was going on because many of the allegations seemed trivial, commonplace, and not at all deserving of dismissal.

In the days following Underwood’s dismissal, many officers were interviewed, but Colonel Sabow was not one of them. He found it odd that no one was talking to him. On January 16, General W.T. Adams informed Colonel Sabow that he, Sabow, was under investigation by the Inspector General, who had requested his presence at the legal department the next day.

Colonel Sabow immediately sought legal help and was assigned to Captain Paul McBride, a young attorney in El Toro’s legal department. Since no allegations had been made against Sabow, McBride advised him not to make any statements to the Inspector General during their meeting.

On January 17, Colonel Sabow and Captain McBride arrived at the Law Center and met with the Inspector General and his staff. Colonel Sabow was informed that he was under investigation for the alleged misuse of government aircraft. The meeting lasted ten minutes. When Colonel Sabow left the room he was immediately met by an aide who directed him to General Adams’ office across the street. General Adams relieved Colonel Sabow of his duties. The entire scenario was obviously prearranged, as there was no time for the Inspector General’s office to discuss the situation with General Adams.

Colonel Sabow informed his staff of the news, collected his personal belongings, and left. No sooner had he arrived home when military personnel entered his premises and removed his autovan phone system and cellular phone.

Colonel Sabow could not comprehend why he was being treated like a criminal after he had devoted his entire life to the Marine Corps. His wife believed that some terrible mistake had been made that would soon be righted. After all, her husband, a loyal officer, had a sterling reputation. But much to Colonal and Mrs. Sabow’s dismay, no one called to tell them that an error had been made.

Colonel Sabow met several times with his defense attorney, Captain McBride, over the next four days and learned that no formal allegations had been made against him. Several general areas of inquiry were provided by the Inspector General, but any allegations against him in these areas Sabow could easily refute through log books, signed orders, and other hard data.

Only one area was not covered by hard data–the transportation of several unauthorized insignificant articles to his son in Spokane, Washington. The articles, which included two posters, several carpet remnants, a pair of twenty-year-old stereo speakers, and two plastic beer advertisements, had no monetary value. The Inspector General’s office repeatedly insisted on referring to these items as furniture. Captain McBride believed that further investigation was to be carried out on Colonel Underwood, but not on Colonel Sabow.

On January 18, the Inspector General’s team handed over their allegations to General Adams. That evening, General Adams, General Davison, and General J.K. Davis, a retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, met for supper at Adams’ residence. The following day, Davison returned to Washington.

On Monday, January 21, 1991, Colonel Sabow met with Colonel Underwood and a mutual friend, Archibald Scott. Scott quoted Colonel Sabow as saying, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”

When James Sabow returned home, his wife, Sally, recalls, he was white as a ghost. He was obviously upset but did not want to talk about it. An hour later, Underwood stopped by and repeatedly tried to talk Jimmy into accepting an early retirement to avoid a court-martial. Jimmy objected strongly. At this, Underwood became quite angry. Sally stated, “I have never seen such a vicious face as Joe’s when Jimmy said he would not retire and would take the entire matter to a court-martial if necessary. Underwood jumped up and said, “You’ll never go to a court-martial, and I mean never!”

Jimmy telephoned General J.K. Davis to get some advice. He assumed that the general did not know about his situation. Davis never once mentioned his prior Friday dinner with Generals Adams and Davison where he obviously would have learned of the allegations against Colonel Sabow. General Davis later did admit to Dr. Sabow that Jimmy intended to demand a court-martial to clear his name. He spoke to Jimmy the night before his death and indicated that Jimmy was in good spirits. Yet no one ever questioned him after the death regarding Jimmy’s state of mind.

Colonel Sabow’s Death

Dr. Sabow relates what happened the day of his brother’s death:

“Sabow arose between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Sally did not feel well and remained in bed and dozed. She was aware of many telephone calls while she lay resting.

“Deirdre [Colonel Sabow’s daughter] left for school at 7:20 a.m. She had talked with her father while she prepared her lunch. He seemed cheerful, talkative, and relaxed. She observed him as having already showered and shaved.

“Sally joined her husband in the living room just after Deirdre left for school. He showed Sally the morning newspaper, which contained an article about Colonel Underwood being relieved of his command. Underwood had called Sabow at about 7:00 a.m. and told him of the article. He also stated that Jimmy would be in the news, the very next day. When Sabow told Sally of Underwood’s warning, Sally said this was absurd, for Underwood had no way of knowing what would appear in the following day’s newspaper.”

Colonel Sabow’s lawyer, Captain McBride, recalls three separate telephone conversations he had with his client that morning. The last one was made at 8:10 a.m., and lasted ten minutes. In a later conversation with Dr. Sabow and in a letter to General Adams, McBride described Sabow’s attitude as being appropriately concerned about his situation, but as not being desperate. (This is important because it directly contradicts statements made by Marine Corps investigators.)

“At 8:30 a.m.,” Dr. Sabow reports, “Sally finished talking to Sue Bloomer, the wife of a retired general. She checked her time, because she wished to attend Mass at the Catholic church located a short distance off the base. She explained to Jimmy that since it was already 8:30 she would miss most of the mass but that she would go anyway and receive Holy Communion.”

“Exactly at the moment when she was opening the front door to leave, the phone rang and she stopped to observe Colonel Sabow, who was sitting in his leather easy-chair in front of the TV, which was approximately twelve feet from the front door. Colonel Sabow answered, saying, ‘Colonel Sabow…[pause]…Colonel Sabow…[pause]…This is Colonel Sabow.’ What was further said by Jimmy is unknown, for just at that moment, Sally closed the door behind her as she left for Mass. Mysteriously, the one who placed this final call to Colonel Sabow has never acknowledged making it. That call was made just minutes before Colonel Sabow died, and consequently identification of the caller was of the utmost importance. All other calls made to Sabow earlier that morning have been identified.”

Dr. Sabow stresses strongly that the fact speaks for itself. “The caller was involved in the murder. The caller gave Sabow a message which caused him to go into his backyard and lock his two dogs in the garage. However, first he put the TV on mute, which he often did if he intended to momentarily return.”

Dr. Sabow also explains that Colonel Underwood, Jimmy’s next-door neighbor, was afraid of the Sabows’ German shepherd. So before Underwood would visit his neighbor he would telephone him and have him secure Nika in the garage.

At the exact time that Jimmy received his final phone call, a meeting was in progress in the base commander, General Adams’, office. Present were Adams, the new Chief of Staff, Colonel Williams, Colonel Lucas, the chief legal officer, and Captain Betsy Sweat, the publicity officer. They had been summoned for an 8:00 a.m. meeting.

Lucas stated that the meeting was to discuss the potential for bad publicity that could emerge from the newspaper article about Colonel Joe Underwood. However, since the article had only just appeared in the Orange County Register that morning, it’s unlikely, if not impossible, for that to have been the reason for that gathering. Except for General Adams, all the others lived off base, and even if they had been notified immediately after the newspaper delivery, there simply would not have been enough time to gather them at 8 a.m.

Dr. Sabow goes on: “Lucas recalls being notified on Monday evening about the meeting, but he can’t recall by whom. Furthermore, since Monday was Martin Luther King Day, it was a federal holiday and the base was, for all practical purposes, closed. It would have been highly unlikely for a leak of the Underwood article to have been made on Monday, January 21, under these circumstances. Hence, it must be assumed that the meeting was called for other than the expressed purpose and probably by General Adams himself. If so, a possible, if not probable, explanation was to establish an alibi.

It has been acknowledged that the Colonel’s death occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. During that time frame, Sally was attending Mass, General Adams was at a meeting in his office, and Colonel Underwood was at his home next door to the Sabow house. It is presumed that Colonel Sabow, who had just been on the telephone, had gone into his back yard, put the dogs in the garage, and was intending to return to his living room to resume viewing the reporting on the Gulf war. He never made it!”

The Aftermath

“Sally arrived home at 9:30 a.m.,” Dr. Sabow explains. “She noticed that the television was on mute and called for her husband, but there was no response. Out on the patio, she saw him laying on the grass. Sally ran to him, placed her arms around his head, and felt a large swelling.”

She immediately ran next door to get help from Underwood. As she went in she exclaimed that Jimmy had shot himself. Sally never once mentioned that her husband was in the backyard, yet Underwood went directly to the backyard gate and confirmed the death at a distance of over 40 feet.

Underwood claims not to have heard the 12-gauge shotgun blast due to noise from air traffic and the television. Records show no air traffic at this time, and the TV was kept exceptionally low due to Mrs. Underwood’s sensitivity to sound.

Underwood immediately called General Adams at headquarters even though it was an hour before the general normally arrived. The general notified the provost martial, Major Goodrow and his deputy, Captain Fouquer, by radio, and they were the first to arrive on the scene. The radio dispatch was intercepted by Sergeant Randy Robinson, an M.P. patrolling the vicinity. He was the next to arrive at the scene.

Robinson observed several Naval Investigation Service personnel handling the weapon without gloves. He also found the ammunition closed up in a garage cabinet with two shells missing. But the ammunition was photographed as if it was strewn on the floor.

Suspicion of Murder

Several hours after learning of his brother’s death, Dr. Sabow called Underwood in an attempt to make sense of the apparent suicide. The colonel mistakenly thought that the call was from another David Sabow, Jimmy’s son. When the doctor corrected him, explaining that he was Jimmy’s brother, not his son, the colonel changed his entire demeanor. Responses to inquiries became cold and calculated, Dr. Sabow reports, and Underwood hesitated before answering even simple questions.

Finally, David caught the colonel in an outright lie. When David asked, “What, my God, happened that my brother would have taken his life?” Underwood replied that Colonel Sabow had just come under investigation for the illegal use of aircraft. David told the colonel he understood that he (Underwood), was the one under investigation, and Underwood said that Colonel Sabow was too. David then said, “For God’s sake, Jimmy was third in command, and you were second. What happened to General Adams? Doesn’t he take care of you guys?” To this, Underwood replied that General Adams and Jimmy were very, very close friends.

That statement immediately put up a red flag, as far as David was concerned. The doctor knew that his brother was not a friend of Adams, and that, in fact, he did not respect him. Colonel Sabow had even described General Adams as a disgrace to the Marine Corps. So David knew immediately that Underwood was lying. Within hours, he went from wondering why his brother committed suicide to a firm suspicion of foul play.

This impression was strengthened during the funeral, when David had a chance to speak to Underwood in person. The first thing he noticed was that Underwood did not want him to speak to Mrs. Underwood alone. He surmised that Underwood was afraid that his wife would contradict his account of what took place on the morning of the Colonel’s death. Over the phone, for example, Underwood had told David that his wife had a series of seizures on the morning of the murder. Yet, Sally Sabow says that when she ran into the Underwood house after discovering Jimmy’s body, she found Mrs. Underwood sitting up and watching television.

Further information implicating Underwood’s involvement was collected on the way to the funeral. David rode in the van driven by Underwood. This allowed him the opportunity to interview him. Underwood talked about how he had told Colonel Sabow to move his guns from a rack in the garage to his son, David’s, vacant bedroom. He specifically mentioned to Jimmy that someone was going to walk into the garage and take his gun since the garage door was often left open. Underwood noted that the shotgun was a special gift from his father and that he ought to move it to a safer location. Sally overheard the conversation. This means that Underwood was one of the few people who actually knew where the shotgun was kept. He also knew where the ammunition was located and that it was left in a cabinet in the garage.

Underwood went on to state that it was a terrible thing to be under investigation by the military. David asked what this meant since Jimmy had only just come under investigation. Joe Underwood replied that back in 1980 and 1981 he had been the target of an NIS (Naval Investigation Service) investigation.

David continued to question Underwood about being under investigation. He learned that Underwood had been stationed in Panama at the time he was accused of smuggling somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of contraband into this country. The NIS had conducted a 10-month investigation of Underwood and then suddenly dropped it “for unknown reasons.”

Something that seemed strange to David at the funeral was that right after the requiem mass, none of the high command or field grade officers came up to him, his brother Tom, or their wives to express condolences. It appeared as if they wanted to stay away.

So after one day in El Toro, David Sabow became highly suspicious, if not convinced, of foul play in his brother’s death. He came to believe that something very bad was going on, and resolved to find evidence of his brother’s murder. He knew he had to do so in a truly scientific manner because the authorities were going to dismiss him as simply a bereaved brother.

Meeting with the Military

Following his brother’s death, David sought cooperation from the Naval Investigation Service and from the legal department at El Toro. But no cooperation was forthcoming. After a month and a half of frustration with the military channels of information, he set up a meeting with a journalist from the Los Angeles Times. General Adams became aware of the planned meeting, and begged David to meet with him first. This was the first time that David had heard from the military. David agreed to the meeting only if several others would be present: Colonel Lucas, the head of the legal department; General David Shuter; and General J.K. Davis, retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (’83-’87). General Adams said that he would comply with these terms.

On March 9, 1991, David and his brother’s widow, Sally, attended the meeting. Several Marines, including generals, were there. Colonel Lucas, however, was conspicuously absent. This disturbed David, who believed that Lucas had information critical to his search. In his place was a man by the name of Wayne Rich, a supposedly retired, but reactivated, Marine. At the time, David did not know Rich’s importance to the meeting.

The meeting, Dr. Sabow reports, turned out to be nothing more than an attempt at intimidation. For five hours, he and Sally sat dumbfounded as Adams and Rich slandered Dr. Sabow’s dead brother. James Sabow was accused of felony, of falsifying documents, and of other serious crimes. No one came to the dead colonel’s defense. Only General Shuter reminded those present that Colonel Sabow had been found guilty of absolutely nothing, and that these charges were only unproved allegations. In the face of intimidation, however, he did not go on to defend the colonel’s reputation of incorruptibility. It became obvious, David says, that Adams and Wayne Rich had conspired to concoct a scenario of lies that would paint the dead colonel with a brush of disgrace. They hoped to shame the colonel’s widow and brother into silence.

During the meeting, General Adams pointed to Sally and demanded that she not talk to his ex-wife. Sally, taken by surprise, countered that she would talk to anyone she pleased. Adams then warned her to stop spreading rumors that he had some involvement in her husband’s death. But up until that point, Sally had never considered this idea; she believed her husband’s death was a suicide.

David asked General Adams why Colonel Sabow was implicated for the misuse of government aircraft. Adams suggested that he did a lot of flying with Underwood. David says that this was an outright lie–for several reasons. First, Colonel Sabow was not allowed to be the first officer of the type of planes they were flying. This is because he was a jet pilot and a fighter pilot, but had never qualified on small aircraft.

Also, Underwood was in a somewhat similar situation. Underwood was overweight, hypertensive, and on medication for a prostate condition. He did not pass his physical, and consequently, for a great deal of the time that Colonel Sabow was stationed in El Toro, Underwood was not allowed to be the first pilot. Therefore, the two could not fly together. In the course of reviewing Underwood’s flight record, Adams claimed to have seen Sabow’s name a lot, when that could not be the case. He could only have flown with a qualified first officer.

After four hours, General Adams dismissed everyone but the NIS agents. David insisted on speaking to them privately, which irritated the general. David had asked for a full report to back up their official determination of suicide. But it appeared that General Adams was determined to keep this information from him. After all this, he was not even able to obtain autopsy or fingerprint information from the NIS forensic experts.

The First Real Help

Three months subsequent to the meeting, David obtained information from a secret source that he developed. The information included copies of several documents.

The most damaging evidence was a five-page hand-written summary by Wayne Rich. By this time, David knew that Rich was an Assistant Attorney General from Washington, who replaced Colonel Lucas at the March 9 meeting. These notes were written by Rich during a telephone conversation with the deputy SJA in Washington, Colonel Lang, on the day before the El Toro meeting, and included statements such as: “We are about to try to convince Sabow’s brother that his brother was a crook and so big a crook…”

The packet also contained an order from one legal officer to another regarding the investigation of ways to have Dr. Sabow’s medical license revoked.

There was also a copy of a memorandum written by the head legal officer, SJA Colonel Lucas. The memorandum was in reference to the peculiar behavior of Lieutenant General Hollis Davison, the Inspector General of the Marine Corps, during an investigation into Colonel Sabow and Colonel Underwood at El Toro from January 10 until January 17, 1991, days before the murder. Lucas talked about the repetitiveness of the Inspector General’s questions, and his peculiar behavior while conducting his interviews. The last paragraph of Lucas’ memorandum stated that he put this into his personal files to protect himself for the future. He stated that if the Inspector General’s behavior became public, it would be very bad for the Marine Corps.

There was also a memorandum from Captain McBride to Colonel Lucas. The memo reported conversations between McBride and Dr. Sabow. This order was from Rich or Adams ordering McBride to divulge confidential information, and violated the trust of the attorney-client relationship.

The packet also included transcribed responses of “witnesses” interviewed by the I.G. in an attempt to depict Colonel Sabow’s misconduct. There was a glaring omission in the transcription–the questions asked of those “witnesses.” David learned that at least one person interviewed, Major Bob Friend, would not sign the transcript because the statements did not reflect his responses.

The JAGMAN Reinvestigation

In the fall of 1991, David contacted Captain Tony Verducci, a Marine Corps officer at El Toro. Verducci had authored the first Judge Advocate General Manual Investigation (JAGMAN), and David appealed to him to reopen a second one. He was also handling his sister-in-law’s attempt to obtain death benefits from the Veteran’s Administration. The V.A. was withholding money on the grounds that Colonel Sabow died in a manner “not becoming of a Marine Corps officer.” Sally trusted Captain Verducci to clear up this problem.

Verducci appealed to Brigadier General Drax Williams, who had replaced General Adams. Williams immediately assigned Verducci to the case. After two days of getting things organized, Verducci was dumbfounded when Williams removed him from the case, stating that the investigation was near completion.

The reinvestigation was reassigned to other legal officers who were not from El Toro, but from adjacent bases. According to Verducci, Colonel Pearcy and Captain Bowe had no previous knowledge of the case. Their entire inquiry and analysis spanned approximately 2« days. During that time, they never left the legal department, and they never consulted Verducci. They never even talked to major players in the affair, including Underwood and Adams. Nor did they visit the crime scene. Their reinvestigation relied on two interviews and old NIS reports. Basically, they shuffled papers.

The sizable document that resulted from this supposed reinvestigation was approved by the appropriate people in Washington. Yet, this report is “replete with misstatements, illogical conclusions, and outright lies,” according to David. Indeed, there were accusations of guilt against a man who was never formally charged, and, further, who could not defend himself against the charges. These are the basic conclusions of the reinvestigation:

Colonel Sabow was desperate.

Colonel Sabow was guilty of misconduct.

Colonel Sabow was guilty of conduct unbecoming a Marine Corps officer.

The transparency of the lies was obvious. For instance, the report included a letter by Captain McBride, who had spoken to Colonel Sabow minutes before his death. In the letter, McBride described Sabow as appropriately concerned “but not desperate.” The report contradicted his statement by saying that Colonel Sabow was desperate. Strangely, McBride’s letter was attached as part of the evidence, an apparent ploy to make suicide appear more plausible.

The specific allegations of misconduct against Colonel Sabow were revealed for the first time during the JAGMAN reinvestigation. They claim that he made several illegal flights. David gave the material to Colonel Sabow’s best friend, Colonel Bill Callahan, who disproved the allegations by obtaining the relevant flight records, orders, and flight plans. Callahan showed conclusively that each and every allegation was unfounded. For example, Colonel Sabow was said to have flown to his ranch for business rather than for a training flight. Yet Sabow never even owned a ranch. His in-laws had owned a ranch south of Tucson, but sold it in 1985 due to illness. According to the report, Colonel Sabow took these illegal flights in 1990. At times, Colonel Sabow would fly to a nearby base to fulfill required training hours, and stay over at his in-laws to visit, but he would never do so if friends and family were there to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Marine Corps and the NIS twisted the colonel’s caring behavior to discredit him.

Another allegation was that Colonel Sabow went to Phoenix to pick up Callahan to fly him back to El Toro. What actually happened was that Colonel Sabow was assigned to Yuma, Arizona to attend a change of command ceremony for an officer. On his way back, he was to stop in Phoenix, and then return to El Toro. Colonel Sabow knew that Colonel Callahan had been ordered back to El Toro, and that the Marine Corps would have to pay for his commercial flight. Since Colonel Sabow had to come that way, he let Callahan know that he could make the flight back with him. So this “illegal flight” amounted to transporting a friend back to the base, and saving the Marine Corps money!

The report also claimed that Captain Verducci voluntarily removed himself from the reinvestigations. Upon seeing this, Verducci was appalled. He told David that this was an outright lie. “I wanted to investigate this case to get to the bottom of it,” he said. Commenting on the report, Verducci added, “Not only is this a mass of lies, it is a gross violation of law!”

Irrefutable Evidence of Murder

After ten months, David was finally able to obtain the autopsy report and other forensic materials. As he reviewed the material, he slowly began to understand why it had been withheld: The reports contained hard, irrefutable evidence of murder. These are some of the findings:

Colonel Sabow was killed by a 12-gauge shotgun blast that made contact with the soft palate. This is difficult to fathom for two reasons. First, unlike the relatively insensitive hard palate, the soft palate reacts negatively to touch. Contact with the soft palate initiates a gag reflex in a conscious person. Second, the soft palate is narrow, causing David to wonder, “How could my brother have put the shotgun up against his soft palate, when the barrel is literally as wide as the soft palate?” This evidence suggests that Colonel Sabow was unconscious during the time of the shot.

The autopsy report states that the brain was literally pulpified from the shooting. It was completely lacerated and turned to pulp. Yet, the autopsy report states that Colonel Sabow’s lungs were filled with aspirated (inhaled) blood. This would indicate that the colonel was able to breathe without a brain or brain stem, an impossibility. Several minutes of coordinated breathing were necessary to fill the lungs with blood. After the brain was destroyed in this manner, the colonel would have been unable to take a single gasp. It proved that his brother was rendered unconscious and breathed for several minutes before the shooting destroyed his brain.

The report indicated that there was no exit wound. Therefore, the entire explosive force of the 12-gauge discharge was contained within the confines of the skull itself, except for the “blowback” out the mouth. The fact that the entire explosive energy was contained in the brain and rendered the cervical spinal cord functionless precludes any chance of even a slight gasp, let alone several minutes of coordinated respirations. So it is far more likely that a powerful blow to the head rendered Sabow unconscious but breathing for several minutes before the shooting. Autopsy photos and interviews of Sally Sabow and Cheryl Baldwin, an NIS agent in charge of investigation, indicate a large bulge on the back of the colonel’s head, an obvious sign of external trauma. The military has consistently denied this evidence.

Colonel Sabow s fingerprints were not on the gun. Yet, he would have touched the gun several times in a suicide scenario.

No blood was found on the gun or on any portion of the colonel’s body below his upper chest. Yet, from the way he was discovered, it was assumed that the colonel shot himself while sitting in a patio chair. David states, “If he had bent over to stretch his right arm to discharge the weapon and to hold the gun barrel in his mouth with the left hand, the blowback would have drenched the intervening clothing. The posture would have placed his face with mouth open directly over his chest, torso, thighs, legs, and feet. But there was no blood below the chest, none over his bathrobe, none on his pajama bottoms, none over his athletic socks, and none on his slippers. But even more impossible and more ridiculous–not one drop of blood was on the gun!”

Furthermore, photographs demonstrated that the ring and small finger of the left hand were covered with blood, but that there was absolutely none on the thumb, index, middle fingers, and back of his hand. If he held the gun in his mouth, his left hand, the back of the hand, thumb, and forearm, including the gun, would be covered with blood. David states that this is extremely important because the NIS said that Colonel Sabow was sitting in a lawn chair holding the gun in his mouth against the soft palate, his left hand grasping the barrel. He then supposedly reached down with his right hand to depress the trigger with his right thumb or index finger. If the weapon had been discharged in that position, blood would have blown back, covering his thumb and index finger, and the web of the hand and the gun. But there was no blood there whatsoever. David points out, “Indeed, when you look at the way he was lying, the ring and little fingers were fairly close to his mouth, and the left forearm was right in front of his mouth.”

After careful study of the material, evidence of homicide was obvious. In fact, it was so apparent that David at times doubted his own judgment. To see if he had been making some mistake in interpretation, David realized he should consult with respected experts. He did contact two such people. One was a leading specialist in the neurological control of respiration, and the other an authority in ballistics trauma.

Dr. Jack Feldman is chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at UCLA. He lectures worldwide and has published over 500 treatises on how the nervous system controls breathing. Upon studying Colonel Sabow’s autopsy reports, Dr. Feldman asked, how did blood enter the lungs? As David had thought, blood in the lungs was a sign that the colonel had been breathing for several minutes before he died. Furthermore, the body was discovered laying on its right side, and blood was found in both lungs. A strong, coordinated breathing effort would have been necessary for the blood to travel uphill to the left lung. Dr. Feldman concluded that since respiration requires an intact brainstem and spinal cord, and since the blast produced massive damage to this area, the colonel would not have been able to generate respiratory movements after the gunshot. On June 20,1994, Dr. Feldman wrote and signed an affidavit that painted the most likely scenario:

“Colonel Sabow was rendered unconscious or immobile by a blow to the head that fractured the base of the skull, causing bleeding into the pharynx. Breathing continued after this injury, aspirating blood into the lung. Sometime later, a shotgun was placed in the mouth and triggered (by another party), causing death and obscuring any evidence of prior injury. This scenario is consistent with the evidence available.”

Dr. Feldman wrote to David that the investigation should be reopened and the evidence reexamined to explore alternatives to the conclusion that Colonel Sabow committed suicide. “It seems to me,” he said, “that the evidence as presented in the autopsy is inconsistent with the scenario that Colonel Sabow placed a shotgun in his mouth, shot himself, fell to the ground, and wound up with a significant amount of aspirated blood.”

David next approached Dr. Martin Fackler with the same evidence. Dr. Fackler founded the Wound Ballistics Laboratory at Letterman Army Institute of Research at the Presidio in San Francisco, and directed it for ten years. Newly retired from the army after 30 years of service, he was the Department of Defense’s expert on wounds. In his report to David, Dr. Fackler’s comments closely echoed those of Dr. Feldman. These were his main conclusions:

“The position of the shotgun (under his body) and the lack of gross blood on the front of the white garments that Colonel Sabow was wearing at the time of his death make suicide appear, to me, unlikely….”

“The amount of blood, and edema, found at autopsy in Colonel Sabow’s lungs would seem, to me, to indicate that he took at least a dozen breaths after the shot. The structures destroyed by the shot, however, would seem to preclude this: the autopsy report states ‘No intact brainstem, including midbrain, pons, or cerebral peduncle is identified'”….

“The fact that none of Colonel Sabow’s fingerprints were found on the shotgun seems strange to me, but the techniques of fingerprinting are out of my field of expertise. One of the reasons given, however, for the lack of fingerprints–that the barrel gets so hot that any fingerprints on it would be burned off–is simply absurd. This is within my area of expertise: I have handled many shotguns immediately after they have been fired–the barrels are not even hot to the touch.”

Dr. Fackler says the strongest evidence of murder is the small amount of blood found on the victim. He says, “Since no blood went out the back of his head, I would expect more of it to blow back and be over things in the front of him. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most supportive evidence to support Dr. Sabow’s beliefs.”

Deputy Sheriff Freiberg of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, whose field of expertise is fingerprint evidence, was also contacted. According to the JAGMAN reinvestigation, Freiberg said that it’s not infrequent for no fingerprints to be found on a shotgun if the individual washed his hands with strong detergent prior to the use of the shotgun. It further refers to him as stating that the heat of even a single shot commonly obliterates fingerprints on a shotgun.

When he found out what was attributed to him, Freiberg became incensed and denied making the statement. Then he vaguely recalled someone from El Toro calling him and concocting an imaginary scenario of a suicide in which the weapon was devoid of prints. Freiberg’s response to the far-fetched situation was, “I suppose anything is possible.” He was given no factual information surrounding Colonel Sabow’s death, and was only asked to render an opinion on some hypothetical, unlikely situation.

In Search of Justice

Gene Wheaton, a retired military investigator, learned about David from an article in the Los Angeles Times, and offered his help. Wheaton began by educating Dr. Sabow on dark forces within the government, the unelected “shadow government” that resorts to any means to exert control, including, when all else fails, threat of financial ruin and assassination.

At first, David did not understand how this affected him, but as he delved into matters he could not help coming to the conclusion that “Colonel Sabow was murdered by fellow Marines, and a conspiracy to cover up the murder involved officers locally and at Marine Headquarters, Navy headquarters, the NCIS, the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and the Orange County Coroner’s Department. It probably also included at least one federal court judge.”

At one point, the Marine Corps contacted Wheaton about the Sabow affair, and David sent him to Washington, where he met with senior field grade officers and gave them an account of the evidence proving murder. He also let the Marine Corps know that Dr. Sabow was not out to ruin the Corps, since his brother had served with them for almost 30 years. He was out to get to the bottom of the murder.

Wheaton let the Marine Corps know that Dr. Sabow was available for discussion and willing to fly to Washington at his own expense and to cooperate fully. But no one ever called.

Dr. Sabow appealed to the Department of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, and even FBI Director William Sessions. No one would listen. He commonly received form letters with words to this effect: We have reviewed all of the in-depth investigations that have been carried out in great detail, and we find no evidence of foul play.

David gave up on the military and sought private channels. He had an equally difficult time finding a lawyer. No one wanted to help. They claimed it was too difficult to win such a case. Several attorneys said that the Feres doctrine prevented servicemen or their families from suing the government. It soon became obvious that trying to get a law firm to take on a case involving the government was almost impossible.

Finally, David found a small law firm in southern California that was willing to work with him. The firm was having financial difficulties and would not work on a contingency basis. They would proceed on a per hour basis only. David accepted the terms as they were the only law firm willing to take on the case. They prepared a Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) against the government.

Dr. Sabow requested partial discovery because he knew that full discovery would not be granted. The government would become too vulnerable. But the judge in the Santa Ana federal district court, Alice Marie Stodler, refused to grant the plaintiffs even limited discovery.

In the meantime, the Department of Defense was ordered by Congress to reinvestigate certain deaths due to an act signed by President Clinton in early 1994. Due to David’s persistence, the DOD knew that they would have to at least make a pseudo attempt at a reinvestigation. In March 1994, Special Investigator Larry Swails was assigned to the case. Swails was from the Division of Criminal Investigation Services (DCIS) for the Inspector General of the DOD.

Swails interviewed several key people, including Colonel Sabow’s immediate family, Lt. Col. Bill Callahan, Captain Anthony Verducci, Randy Robinson, Dr. Jack Feldman, Gene Wheaton, and individuals from the Orange County Coroner’s office.

Many of these people had key information to offer. Robinson, for example, had witnessed tampering with the patio chair’s position at the scene of the death, and discovered the ammunition inside a garage cabinet. He saw the same ammunition photographed on the garage floor to make it appear that it had been found in that location. Gene Wheaton provided Swails with much evidence of murder. Captain Verducci told Swails that Dr. Sabow was the only one who had ever investigated the case, and that he had overwhelming evidence of foul play. But Swails was only interested in finding out what these people knew about covert activities. He was not interested in the events of the death and the material that pointed to murder.

Needless to say, the FTCA claim was thrown out of court by Federal Judge Alice Marie Stodler. And this was despite the fact that Dr. Sabow was able to prove that no thorough investigation was ever done.

Sabow learned that a huge legal team was working against him. The Justice Department sent a Mr. Zipperstein from Washington, D.C., to southern California to coordinate the efforts of the government against him.

David summed it up: “The end result was that we were denied our day in court….The decision of the judge was at best outrageous in addition to being unconstitutional.”

In October 1994, Larry Swails finally interviewed Dr. Sabow. When Swails started his investigation in March 1994, Sabow expected that he would be the first person interviewed. He called Swails several times and asked why he was not seen. After all, he had autopsy material, photographs, and other documents. He had more than an opinion to offer–he had the hard evidence. Despite this, Sabow was the last to be summoned.

A week before the interview, Swails phoned David and requested Sally Sabow’s presence at the meeting. Sabow surmised that this would be an exit interview and did not bother to tell Sally about it.

A couple of days prior to the meeting, Sabow invited a close friend to sit in on the talks. Judge Marshall Young was a prominent judge and a past president of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.

On October 22, 1994, Larry Swails and his assistant, Nancy Sundervan, came to David’s home. The investigators immediately started questioning Sabow about his knowledge of covert activities, and his sources of documentation. Their questions were direct: Who are your sources? Who supplied you with information from headquarters? And so on. David told them that he was not interested in this type of conversation. He reminded them that there was only one reason for the interview, and that was to establish the manner of death of Colonel Sabow.

The two were clearly at odds in their intent. David would start to present his evidence, but before he could finish a sentence, Swails would say, “no, that’s not quite right. It’s this way.” Judge Young interrupted several times saying that he didn’t understand the way the interview was being conducted. They had come all this way to find out what Dr. Sabow knew regarding the manner of his brother’s death. Yet any time Dr. Sabow opened his mouth to present a piece of evidence, they would counter it by saying that their experts say otherwise. This was not a court, Judge Young reminded them, but a fact-finding mission.

Sabow insisted on going over the evidence point by point, and the two so-called investigators continued to resist. They were not open to any evidence that did not support their point of view. The two were particularly disturbed by statements and autopsy photos regarding a large lump on the back of Colonel Sabow’s head, and by the idea that it was not likely that a person would hit himself over the head before shooting himself. According to David, whenever such an inconsistency arose, the two would ignore it, change the topic, or offer to show it to the FBI. At one point during the interview the investigators actually said that they were not going to consider any evidence that was not pointing toward suicide.

After Swails and Sundervan left, Judge Young told David that “I have never seen anything in my life like this, and I’ve been on the bench for over 30 years. I have never seen a capital crime proved so conclusively. You have proved murder in spades.” He went on to say, “But I want you to know, you’re dealing with evil people. And you make one grave mistake. You have faith in the judicial system. I don’t.”

Three or four days after the meeting, Gene Wheaton called Larry Swails to find out how the Rapid City investigation went. Gene had known Larry years before when he was a criminal investigator for the army. Swails answered that the meeting was “an absolute waste of time. All Dr. Sabow wanted to talk about was the investigation of his brother’s murder. He didn’t want to say anything about covert activities.”

Judge Young told David about a dedicated FBI agent, Bill Grode, and David was able to arrange a meeting with Grode. He expected their talk to last a half hour or so, but Grode was deeply interested and stayed for 3« hours. He took voluminous notes and left with copies of the evidence. In early January 1995, Grode called to set up another meeting.

At this meeting, Sabow started showing a magnetic resonance film demonstrating the extent of damage that would have occurred with a shotgun blast contacting the soft palate. But after a few words, Grode looked at him and said, “Dr. Sabow, that’s really interesting, but we know it’s homicide.” Sabow dropped his pointer and began to weep. This was the first time in four years that anybody in the government had acknowledged him.

Interestingly, Grode had said we instead of I. Subsequently, David learned that the other person was an Agent Fred Collins, head of the north central FBI district and stationed in Minneapolis. Together, Grode and he reviewed information before sending a report to Washington. David subsequently learned that from Washington it had been referred to the Los Angeles FBI bureau but that “it was too hot to handle” and sent back to Washington.

Dr. Sabow wrote a letter to the director of the FBI after not hearing anything for several months. The letter was detailed, and filled with hard evidence. A week or two later, Dr. Sabow received a letter from the Congressional liaison and public affairs officer for the FBI, a man by the name of Collingwood, stating, in essence, that the FBI had already conducted investigations into the matter in 1993, and had found absolutely no evidence of foul play. They were sorry that his brother was dead, but it was over. The FBI didn’t want any part of it.

David was devastated at this point. By this time, he had been stonewalled by the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy, the Justice Department, and the FBI. He had written to Senators and Congressmen, and had received nothing except perfunctory responses, such as that they had given the material to the Marine Corps or to the Department of Defense, and they were looking into it. He could not get a major commitment from anybody.

His law firm did launch an appeal, which is in front of the court right now. It appears that it will be a year to a year-and-a-half before he will get a decision.

In the interim, David decided to go to Washington. He was fortunate in that he met Senator Tom Daschle, a man who he feels has the integrity and commitment to help him all the way. Upon seeing the evidence, Senator Daschle acknowledged its importance. Currently, his staff is working with David. With this help, David continues to pursue justice. His plan is to request a special Senate inquiry and a meeting with Janet Reno and Louis Free at which time they will demand a federal grand jury.

One thing is for sure: Dr. David Sabow is not going away. He is sure that it is only a matter of time before the truth will out, and Colonel Sabow’s name is cleared.

Pete Barbee and the Drug Connection

Dr. David Sabow’s investigation has proven without a shadow of a doubt that Colonel Sabow’s death was murder, not suicide. But why was he killed? Captain Pete Barbee, who has conducted investigations into drug trafficking at air bases for several years, claims to know.

Barbee was a mustang in the Marine Corps (a mustang is an officer who came up through the ranks). In 1985, Barbee was a Captain in the Marine Corps in Tustin, California, serving as a helicopter aircraft commander. Barbee was selected for a degree completion program, so he left the Marines for two years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of California at Irvine.

During this time, Colonel Sabow became aware of drugs on the base. He and his staff decided to use undercover methods to find out how the drugs were getting there. Somebody recommended Barbee, who, as a mustang, had rapport with the troops. In the latter part of 1987, Colonel Sabow contacted Barbee and discussed his concern about drug trafficking within the El Toro and Tustin bases.

Investigations confirmed suspicions that drug activity was taking place. But the information uncovered was surprising. After much research, Barbee discovered chemicals used to make methamphetamine were being sold.

In 1987, Barbee graduated from the University of California at Irvine, and was assigned back to the Marine Corps in Tustin, where he continued to investigate and report on chemical trafficking. Colonel Sabow advised him to report to him and no one else.

Barbee learned that the chemicals red phosphorus and P2, a bluish liquid used for cleaning ships and aircraft for quality control, were being removed from the military stockpile and transferred through DRMO, the Defense Regional Management Office, and several NIS agents.

Barbee left the Marine Corps but he did stay in southern California, and therefore saw the newspaper articles about Colonel Sabow’s death in the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register. When he read about the “suicide” he immediately said that that was impossible. He knew the death had something to do with drug interests. Barbee had a great respect for Colonel Sabow, and felt that he owed him a debt. He would repay the debt by continuing with the investigations in an attempt to find the killer. Barbee continued to go to DRMO auctions to watch what was happening, and to gather information and leads. In the back of his mind, he could hear the colonel’s words, “Trust no one.”

In 1993, Barbee moved to Fontana, close to Waters’ Country store, the center of massive and open drug dealing. Twelve to twenty drug dealers worked there seven days a week, and he could not understand why they were dealing so openly, and why nothing was being done to stop them. There were no drug busts made, and no police monitoring them. Yet everything from heroin to cocaine, speed, and pot were being sold and bringing in easily $50,000 to $70,000 a week.

Barbee became too visible. On the night of November 10, 1993, he was kidnaped, drugged, and left for dead in Ventura County. Several underlings who worked for drug lords Carlos Segura, Rudy Garza, and Augustine were responsible. They were major dealers and providers at Waters’ Country Store.

Barbee was discovered by the police, and after a short stay in the emergency room was taken to jail on drug charges. After getting out of jail, he obtained a gun, and continued his search. He slowly gathered more knowledge on why and how these dealers were allowed to operate with such impunity. He discovered a great deal of corruption.

With the backing of the Ventura sheriff’s office, Barbee was able to make an agreement with Mr. and Mrs. Waters. His goal was three-fold. He wanted to remove the debris that they had collected for over 40 years in back of Waters’ Country Store, to remove the drug dealers, and to remove the people who were living in the back of the store.

Barbee worked with the sheriff’s office for approximately three months, during which time he denied the drug dealers access, moved things around so that they weren’t familiar with their territory, and gave the sheriff’s department information about types of drugs and drug deals being made.

At the end of three months, a big raid took place, and the drug dealers were gone. Once they found out that Barbee had a lot of information, and that he was passing it along, Garza and Augustine saw to it that Barbee was badly beaten. This happened more than once. Guns were pulled on him, his head was cracked, and his nose was crushed.

After recovering, Barbee continued working. Garza was determined to put an end to his interference. He told several people that he was going to take Barbee down because of his connection with the sheriff, and because he had eliminated him from the drug scene. Barbee did not perceive this as an idle threat. Garza had a rap sheet three or four pages long filled with violent assaults, including murder.

On August 29, 1994, Garza attacked Barbee with a knife at his place of business. Barbee pushed Garza away and armed himself. Garza came at him again, and Barbee shot him four times in the head.

Several witnesses saw what Garza had done. Others heard Garza’s threats to kill Barbee. Unfortunately, the sheriff chose to ignore witnesses. They also ignored reports by emergency medical technicians who found Garza lying on the pavement, knife in hand. Barbee was arrested that night for first-degree murder, which shocked several police officers who had been working with him.

Barbee subsequently identified the district attorney in the Fontana Court as someone he frequently saw with Garza at Waters’ Country Store. He told the sheriff’s investigator, and co-defender investigator this information. They informed Barbee that they were doing an investigation into the prosecuting DA. They said that the situation would be worked out and that it would not be a problem–this was strictly a case of self-defense.

Barbee then learned that the DA was aware of the investigation. As a result, he had an even greater dislike of Barbee.

While in jail, Barbee was threatened and beaten. He was told he would be killed in jail. At one point, Barbee was moved from his cell block to another one, right next to Rudy Garza’s cousin, Eddie. Like his cousin, Eddie Garza was involved in a great deal of violence and drug trafficking.

In prison, Barbee has given information to the sheriff’s department concerning DRMO involvement in the sale and use of red phosphorus and P2. The information has panned out for them. Yet he has not received any help in return. They also have records of Barbee’s investigation with the sheriff’s department into the Garza crime family.

On November 17, 1994, Diane Barbee, Pete Barbee’s wife, saw Connie Chung’s Eye-to-Eye television program, which had a report about Dr. Sabow investigating the death of his brother. They phoned Pete to tell him about the show. Pete Barbee broke down in tears when he learned that someone else cared enough to investigate the murder. As a result, Dr. Sabow and Pete Barbee made contact.

Dr. Sabow informed Jim Willworth, an investigative reporter for Time magazine, about Barbee, and he subsequently interviewed him in depth several times. Willworth later told Dr. Sabow, “I’ve done this business for 28 years. This man is legitimate.” After Jim Willworth’s interview, the prosecution changed the charge against Barbee from first-degree murder to manslaughter. The reason given for the manslaughter charge: He had overreacted with his gun. Rather than fight this in court, Barbee pleaded no contest. (His attorney had said that they could fight it, but if they lost he could get up to a ten-year penalty. Believing the system to be corrupt, Barbee thought it best to serve for a lesser time, especially since the time served before he was given bail is included.)

So Barbee took the plea of manslaughter and has been sentenced to three years in state prison. The last time his wife, Diane, visited him, Barbee stated that he needed to talk about Colonel Sabow. He needed to get all the information to them so that he could repay the debt he owes. Diane says that her husband wants to verify that he brought up Colonel Sabow’s death long before he was incarcerated. He actually gave the information to the sheriff’s department, and they were supposed to have turned it over to other authorities, including the DEA. But nothing has been passed along. Also of interest is the fact that Barbee was interviewed by the FBI months ago, and has heard nothing from them since that time.

Some say that Barbee was arrested because of his insight into Colonel Sabow’s death and his knowledge of covert government operations. Not surprisingly, Barbee fears for his life. “There is a lot of corruption here in Fontana,” he says. “I am going up against a DA who has prostituted his position, and a judge who has prostituted his. The judge has eliminated evidence, and has lied about it. I am scared. I fear for my life, and my wife fears for hers. She has had to move. I need help, and I just pray that I can get it.”

Other Casualties of the Sabow Affair

The following additional individuals connected to the Sabow affair have met with strange misfortunes. Evidently, they knew too much.

Randy Robinson, the MP who witnessed evidence tampering at the death scene, was arrested two months after the murder, and charged with rape. The charge was then changed to the lesser one of adultery, for which he has served a six-month sentence. Captain Verducci, who acted in Robinson’s defense, felt that the whole affair was bizarre, because the alleged victims did not file a complaint and refused to testify in court.

Archibald Scott, a highly decorated colonel who heard Colonel Sabow exclaim to Underwood that “Quitters never win and winners never quit,” was accused of impersonating an officer. Scott took the case to court, and the decision has been reversed in his favor.

Captain Leslie Williams worked for Colonel Sabow and thought highly of him. She openly protested derogatory remarks against him. Despite a highly rated performance and recommendations for promotion by Colonel Sabow, Williams was “passed over” by the military and had to “get out.”

Provost Marshall Goodrow and deputy, Forquer, were the first on the scene when Sabow died. Both were given new assignments in the summer of 1991. One was sent to Okinawa and the other to Twenty-Nine Palms. They were “short-termed.”

Jack Chisom, the co-owner of T&G Aviation, who supplied C-130 and DC-7 operations in the Persian Gulf, was found dead in the Arizona desert as the result of a hit-and-run accident.

“Kevin,” a marine who retired in the summer of 1994, was at the home of some friends when ®MDBR¯Eye-to-Eye With Connie Chung®MDNM¯ appeared on television. The program contained a segment on the death of Colonel Sabow and included a reference to large quantities of drugs being delivered to military bases, and an interview with a pilot who was involved in these flights. The group of people watching the program were astounded. “Kevin” assured them that everything they saw was true. He himself had been ordered to load vast quantities of drugs onto airplanes with the idea that drugs would be used for sting operations. He was not supposed to discuss the matter with anyone. Later, David Sabow learned of him and tried to reach “Kevin” for an interview. Five days later, a secret source told him “Kevin’s” place of work and his unlisted phone number, but “Kevin” was dead. He was found hanging from the rafters of his parents’ barn.

Tom Wade was a computer specialist who accessed confidential records for the Inspector General during his bogus investigation in January 1991. He found that the MWR files had been purged, including contracts with proprietary airlines, which are suspected of being involved in illegal C-130 acquisitions and illicit drug traffic. Wade’s brutal death remains a mystery. He was shot in the head early on Christmas Day, 1994, as he was returning from Midnight Mass. As Wade’s colleague at El Toro, computer installation chief Felix Segovia, explains, Wade was a single parent living in an apartment complex. “He had a small daughter. He was going home Christmas Eve from services. He was on his way home to pick up some gifts to take back to the church…to give out to the kids, and he was accosted by a couple of individuals in the parking lot of his complex, and shot in the back of the head, execution-style. Nothing was taken from his car. His daughter was left in the car crying. And no one saw anything. And until 6 in the morning when finally someone heard his daughter crying, it was never reported to the police.”

Sergeant Felix Segovia is awaiting court-martial. He was a close friend of Tom Wade’s, and had filed a “wholesale theft of computer equipment” report after having found that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers, hardware, and software were missing from the El Toro base.

Colonel Jerry Agenbroad was found hanged in the BOQ in El Toro, on Feb. 24, 1994, five days after a 60 Minutes segment on illegal acquisitions and use of C-130s. He was in charge of MWR and at one time had been the head of the Air Museum at El Toro.