Playing With the Facts

Joe Schlatter, former Deputy Director of DIA's "Special" Office of POW/MIA Affairs has a page just like this one on his website. In fact, we took this off his website. Joe authored the page. His comments are in black and green; Dolores (correct spelling of her name) Alfond's testimony is in bold black and our comments are in blue. We've linked to documentation for you to decide who is playing with the facts.

Additionally, we take exception to Schlatter's disrespect to yet another family member. Labeling Mrs. Apodaca-Alfond information as nonsense (below), as well as claiming that Mrs. Apodaca-Alfond has mislead Congress (elsewhere below), shows you just how the Department of Defense feels about most vocal family members. Remember, Schlatter was not low level. He was, at the time of his "retirement" the Deputy Director of DIAs "Special" POW/MIA Office. If he exhibited the disrespect that he obviously holds for a number of prominent families while he was in office, then how do you suppose his underlings conducted themselves?

Summary.   USAF Major Victor Apodaca was lost when his F-4 was shot down over North Vietnam, June 8, 1967.  His sister, Ms. Delores Alfond, is a regular source of nonsense regarding her brother's loss and a number of other MIA topics.

It's Mrs Dolores Alfond, Joe. National Chairperson of that thorn in your side, the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen. Not the quasi-government family organization that you link to off your site.

Facts of the Loss

Captain Victor Apodaca and 1LT Jon Busch were lost on June 8, 1967, when their F-4C was shot down while on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.  They were reconning a route that included areas of logistic activity.  That is, they were checking out roads, bridges, and installations that fed men and material onto the Ho Chin Minh Trail for movement south.

The Apodaca-Busch aircraft was one of two F-4Cs, callsigns Hambone 1 and Hambone 2 (the Apodaca-Busch bird).  Hambone 1 took the lead, followed about a mile behind by Hambone 2. The two aircraft were flying at an altitude of about 4500 feet over a river valley with rolling to mountainous terrain about 22 miles northeast of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.

Hambone 1 radioed Hambone 2 that he was encountering heavy and accurate ground fire. Fifteen seconds later, Apodaca acknowledged the warning and reported that his aircraft had been hit. Hambone 1 advised Apodaca to exit the area and head for the coast (where an at-sea rescue may be possible). Moments later, Hambone 2 reported that experiencing control and hydraulic problems. The last message from Hambone 2 gave the direction and altitude (16,000 feet).

Seconds later, emergency signals were received for about 25 seconds, but it was not possible to determine whether one or two radio signals were broadcasting, nor could the point of origin be determined. Hambone 1, critically low on fuel, was forced to return to base.

An electronic search was conducted, but suspended due to darkness, bad weather and heavy anti-aircraft fire. During the search, no electronic or visual contact was made and no evidence of the aircraft was found.

(Note:  At time of loss, Apodaca was a Captain, Busch a First Lieutenant.  Later, each was promoted one grade in absentia.)

A Report of This Loss; Busch's Remains Returned

Over the years, one report was received by US intell that correlated to the Apodaca-Busch loss.  In this report, the source stated that he had been a member of an anti-aircraft unit operating in the area where the Apodaca-Busch loss occurred.  He reported that, one day in June 1967, he observed the wreckage of a US aircraft that had been shot down while bombing a bridge the previous day.  He reported observing the body of one of the "pilots."  He described the body as being Caucasian, having fair complexion, short blonde hair, and a slight beard.

This report was correlated to the Apodaca-Bush loss because of the location and the date.  In his interrogation, the source was firm on the date and location.  There were no other US aircraft lost in this area for several weeks on either side of the report, thus, the aircraft loss that he was describing cold correlate only to the Apodaca-Busch loss.  Also, because Apodaca was dark-complexioned with black hair, and Busch was fair-complexioned with light hair, we believe that the body the source observed was Busch.

Because of this report, which indicated that the Apodaca-Busch aircraft loss was well-known to the Vietnamese, this incident was raised by General Vessey with the Vietnamese as one that they should be able to help resolve.  In 1988, remains were returned that were later identified as Busch.  At the same time, the Vietnamese returned a twisted dog tag imprinted with Apodaca's name and identifying data and a map enclosed in a plastic map case.  They claimed that these two artifacts had been recovered from the crash site.

Later, US personnel excavated the crash site and recovered a small quantity of bone fragments that could be the remains of Apodaca.

The report that was correlated  to the Apodaca-Busch loss has been attacked by the MIA "activists."  They find several "serious discrepancies" with the report.  They have also attacked the identification, claiming that it was based on the source report.  The following is a listing of the attacks launched on this report and my response to those attacks.

The source reported that the body had blonde hair; Busch had red hair, thus, the body could not be Busch.  Response:  Vietnamese -- and other Asians , for that matter -- are not good at distinguishing variations in hair color.  Asians have one color of hair: black.  Europeans and Americans understand the gradations of blonde, light blonde, dark blonde, reddish blonde, etc., etc.  To a Vietnamese, our hair is blonde or light colored.  Our experience with their attempting to describe hair color is that they just do not distinguish the gradations of color as would an American, who is accustomed to variations.  All they know is black and light, or, a word that we translate as blonde.  The source saw an American body with light hair; red, blonde, whatever.
Asian's can't differentiate between red and blonde?! That's your response? By the way, Joe, the Busch and both Apodaca repatriations were unliateral. Not excavated. Unless, of course, you know something that we do not. Comeon Joe, you can tell us!


The source reported that the body had a beard.  USAF members do not wear beards, therefore, this could not have been Busch.  Response:  Okay, just who the hell do you think it was flying an F-4 around the skies of Vietnam in 1967?  Santa Claus?  The source did not describe a man with a beard like Santa; he described a growth of facial hair.  Apodaca and Busch were lost after 6:00 p.m.   They would have shaved early that morning and,  by the time they were shot down, both men would have had a good growth of "five o'clock shadow."  Busch was dead and his body would have taken on the pale appearance of a dead man, emphasizing any beard stubble that would be on his face.  This is what the source described.
Right Joe. Loved the Santa Claus crack. So now you insult Asians by claiming they don't know the difference between a five o'clock shadow and a beard. Or are you admitting that the USAF was experimenting with chemicals that resulted in accelorated facial hair growth?!! Hey, if you want to use Santa in your analogy, I might as well use chemicals in mine to show how rediculous your assertion is.


The source reported that the aircraft had been shot down while attacking the bridge, Apodaca and Busch were on an armed recce mission, thus, this report could not  pertain to their loss.  Response:  Irrelevant.  The source had no way of knowing what their mission was.  All he knew was that US aircraft had attacked a bridge in  the vicinity (which had happened), he saw a downed aircraft and a dead American, so he assumed that this was an aircraft and pilot who had been attacking the bridge.
Irrelevant? Your basing your conclusion on the assumption that the source is assuming.
Irrelevant? Haven't you, Joe Schlatter, used data from sources like the one above to debunk identifications? On your "" domain, don't you claim that the other top misinformation specialist, Bob Destatte, wrote the defining piece on the Baron 52 matter by claiming that the NSA hadn't been listening to the capture of the 4 backenders of Baron 52, but, in fact, had been listening to a lost convoy who happened into the area at the time that Baron 52 had been downed?? Now be careful here. The convoy that was lost was carrying POWs shot down weeks before. BUT, look at Shclatter's underlined remarks about this shoot down: "There were no other US aircraft lost in this area for several weeks on either side of the report, thus, the aircraft loss that he was describing cold correlate only to the Apodaca-Busch loss" We'll get into this when I take the Baron52 joke off his website.
Irrelevant Joe? The source who was there couldn't tell what the aircraft was attacking? Who is playing with facts, Joe?


Finally, the activists claim that Busch's remains were identified on the basis of this report.  Response:  Not so.The remains were identified because a nearly complete skeleton was returned and there was no doubt that the remains were Busch.
Nearly complete skeletel remains, Joe? Like maybe they were warehoused? But I thought the official position was that Hanoi hasn't been warehousing remains, Joe. Sure you don't want to contact your DPMO handlers to see if they want you to retract that bit of information that you let slip?

The activist attack on the report of the Apodaca-Busch loss is just another example of how they confuse matters with irrelevancies and misleading statements.

This complaint from a pig wrestler like you, is almost laughable if it weren't more smoke and mirrors Joe.

Ms. Alfond Gives False and Misleading Testimony

The following material is taken from testimony that Ms. Alfond delivered on June 28, 1995, before the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.  The bold black text is Ms. Alfond's words, taken directly from the testimony.  The bold green text is my [Schlatter's]comments on her misrepresentations.

Note: Our remarks appear in this color.

Begin quote from Delores Alfond's testimony.

My brother, Capt. Victor Apodaca, was one of the original 119 Vessey discrepancy cases. General Vessey presented Victor's case to the Vietnamese in 1986. In 1988, the remains of the pilot of Victor's plane were returned and identified. Also returned was a plastic map overlay recovered from the crash and a dog tag bearing the name Victor J. Apodaca. Based on this mangled and burned dog tag, the U.S. Government made the decision to remove Victor from the discrepancy list.

Not true.  Major Apodaca's case remained under investigation for some time.  At the time I [Schlatter] retired in March 1995, it was still one of the cases that we had as an active investigation precisely because the Vietnamese returned to us his dog tag and map.  We figured that, if they had that sort of material, they would certainly know what happened to him.

So then, Joe, you're claiming that Victor's name remained on the "Vessey List" up through your retirement? Or was it "active" because you needed reason to keep tabs on Dolores Apodaca-Alfond because she heads an organization that cannot be manipulated by the government like another organization that you freely link to from your pages?

They ignored the fact that FBI analysis concluded that the dog tag was made of materials other than that specified by the U.S. Government for that time period. Investigators ignored the report which indicated the burn marks came from a source other than a jet fuel fire.

Nonsense.  I submitted the dog tag and map to the FBI crime lab for analysis.  We wanted them to tell us if there was evidence of how or how long the materials had been stored.  Or, was there evidence that the map and dog tag had recently been recovered.  The FBI did not conclude that the dog tag was made of some other material and they did not conclude that the burn marks came from some source other than jet fuel.  In fact, they were not able to determine the source of the burn marks.

Joe, according to your memo of 5 JUL 1989 to Mr. Bates at Headquarters, the dog tags were sent to the FBI for analysis and it was concluded that the dog tag were made of Monel, an alloy composed of nickel, copper, iron and magnese. Now if this is not the material that comprised dog tags at that time, well then that is material "other than specified." Easily found out. Anyone can contact the military to find out what the dog tags were made of at the time.
  • Click Here to View Joe's Memo Be sure to hit your back button.

  • What we did not know until, March of 1994, was the FBI analysis concluded that the damage done to the dog tag was inflicted by a pair of wire cutters being repeatedly used to cause the damage seen here. We also learned that the FBI was ordered to destroy the map overlay recovered from the crash site. Those orders came from the Defense POW/MIA Office and were signed by Col. Joseph Schlatter. Why did Col. Schlatter order this map overlay destroyed?

    Ms. Alfond constantly claims that ". . . we did not know, until March of 1994 . . ."  All available information was given to the USAF to be passed to the family.  She is not the primary next-of-kin (PNOK).  The PNOK is Major Apodaca's son, himself an AF officer.  If he did not share this information with his Aunt Delores, that is a family matter.  Nothing was withheld from anyone.  (Also, Apodca's wife has a brother who, at the time I was in DIA, was a USAF Brigadier General.  Whenever we had new information, we would notify him.  From time to time, he would just show up in the office to talk and ask questions.  He would discuss with the son and Apodaca's wife anything we told him; he would also bring us questions from them.)

    Joe, your first statement that Dolores was not the primary next-of-kin may very well be true. But that does not negate the fact that you did not tell Dolores. Obviously you didn't mind telling people who weren't directly related to Victor, because you admit breifing Apodaca's brother-in-law, which opens the question as to WHY didn't you tell Dolores, although she requested the information? You just showed it was more than just a family affair, Joe.

    As to the condition of the dog tag and the FBI report:  The dog tag had been bent and had what looked like burn marking on it as though it had been in a fire.  (Imagine that, an F-4, shot down, bursting into flame.).  The FBI concluded that it could have been bent by someone using pliers or wire cutters, from the force of impact, or other means.

    We'll concede that the dog tags could have been bent by someone using pliers or wire cutters, but they were also used to dig in the ground, as I recall because of the film or residue and it says that it was done on separate occasions over time. Your memo of 05 JUL 1989 makes that clear.
  • Click Here to View Joe's Memo Be sure to hit your back button.

  • I did not order the map to be destroyed.  Here are the facts.  The map that was returned to us by the Vietnamese was enclosed in a plastic cover that had been fused together in places by heat.  Our guess was that one of the crewmembers had the map in his possession when the aircraft went in and, in the ensuing fire, the map's plastic cover was damaged.  The effect of the fire was to make the burned and heated portions of the plastic very hard.  There were places where the hard plastic edges were sharp; in fact, one of our file clerks cut herself on the plastic.  I directed that the sharp edges be trimmed off the map.  In a letter to the FBI lab, I stated that I had directed this be done for "health reasons."  The fact is that the map was dirty, it had soil and something that looked like dried blood on it (turned out not to be blood), and I did not want anyone else in my office cutting themselves on the sharp edges of the plastic.  That's it.  The map was not destroyed.  In fact, the map was later turned over to the USAF.  I guess they sent it on to Major Apodaca's son.

    Smoke and mirrors Joe. Map overlay was what Apodaca-Alfond testified was ordered destroyed. The plastic map overlay, Joe. And you claim you didn't order it. Really, Joe? You or someone from your office didn't "telephonically" on June 15, 1989 direct the FBI to destroy the specimens? Then how do you explain the June 21, 1989 letter from the FBI Latent Fingerprint section on their file # 32-26795 submitted to, well I'll be darned, Joe Schlatter, wherein they confirm that they are destroying the specimens? They even reference "two pieces of plastic overlay". You did not direct them to blunt the edges Joe, this letter clearly shows that they were told to destroy them.
  • Click here to refresh your memory, Joe but be sure to hit your back button! 'Coz there's more!!

  • And guess what, Joe? Your own 05 JUL 89 report to headquarters in your number 4 details that the remaining portions of the overlay had been destroyed. Not blunted. Not trimmed but destroyed.

  • Let's go back to your memo, OK Joe? and, please, be sure to hit your back button 'coz you know there's more!

  •  We learned of this information, not through official government channels but from an activist who located these documents in the Library of Congress. Evidence proves the dog tag, said to be my brothers, was at best manually damaged to give the appearance of being in a jet crash. At worst it is an outright fake.

    The dog tag is a real US dog tag.  The information about the dog tag and the map was provided to Major Apodaca's PNOK, his son.  In fact, I telephoned the son to talk with him about the dog tag and the map.  If Apodaca's son did not share this information with his Aunt Delores, that is a family matter.

    But you also admit sucking up, er keeping, the brother-in-law Brigadier General informed, so it is more than simply a family matter Joe. You withheld information from a sibling. Funny thing about siblings, if Victor had been rescued and transported stateside and transferred to a hospital where he had to be kept in intensive care, Dolores would be permitted in to see him because she is an immediate family member. Now, the Brigadier General, well he may not be permitted in because he is not immediate family. It would depend on the hospital policy regarding in-laws.

      End quote from Delores Alfond's testimony.  

    So, what's the point?   The point is that Ms. Alfond, in testimony before Congress, provided false and misleading information.  Why would she do this?   Did anyone call her on it?  What if I had provided similarly false and misleading information?
    But you did Joe. Right here on this page you've mislead. You try to change Dolores' testimony from demanding answers over the destruction of the map overlay into a map. You try, further, to make the overlay harmless by calling it a piece of plastic that the maps were in, but yet the FBI acknowledge it was an overlay and your own memo calls it an overlay.

    What consequences do you pay Joe?You haven't had to pay any consequences for misleading or lying to anyone, including Congress and the people that view these pages of yours. The following documents show that you were the primary contact to the FBI and so the logical conclusion is that you are misleading and spreading falsehoods. What else will your website show us Joe?

    Here's some documents to refresh your memory, Joe.

  • FBI supplemental dated April 7, 1989
  • Your letter of 02 Jun 1989 to the FBI
  • The FBI Latent Fingerprint Section June 21, 1989 response wherein they tell you they are destroying the specimens as directed telephonically on June 15, 1989.
  • Your 05 JUL 89 report to Headquarters which we've gone into enough detail over.

    Playing With
    the Facts: You Decide

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