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Need assistance supporting my Laos experiences

Military Authority Member
Richard Kieselbach May 17th, 2011

Richard Norton Kieselbach
170 North Canterbury Road
Charlotte, NC 28211-1422
Service Number: 3868

May 16, 2011
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505
Dear Information and Privacy Coordinator:
Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552, I am requesting information or records that will prove I was in Laos in September-October 1970. My reason for requesting this information is to enable me to qualify for a Veterans Administration in-patient PTSD program. I have met every other qualification except being able to prove that I was in a combat related environment because my military DD-214 does not indicate I was ever in Laos.
To give some background as to the circumstances, I have outlined the sequence of events below:
I graduated from The Ohio State University (“OSU”) in March 1970 with a degree in Industrial Design. During my first two years at OSU, I was in Air Force ROTC, achieving a rank of Cadet Master Sergeant. In my junior year, I transferred to Army ROTC and moved up the ranks to a Cadet Lieutenant Colonel and Battalion Commander. I assisted in organizing the Cadet Counter Insurgency Corp at OSU. I had the honor of being recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant Ordnance Corp USAR.

In June 1970, I reported to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD to begin my service to my county. In late August 1970, I transferred to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL for advanced training as an Ammunition Storage Officer (4514).

Soon after my arrival at Redstone Arsenal, I was approached by a major from the Chemical Corp (I believe his last name was McClellan or something close to that). He offered me the opportunity to volunteer for a Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment. The Major said that I had displayed qualities that he was looking for this particular assignment. After some discussions, I learned that the assignment involved going to Laos on a special mission dealing with the evaluation and use of Fuel Air Explosives (FAE), improved conventional munitions. As part of these discussions, I learned that the mission was top secret and I was instructed not to discuss it with anyone. Major McClelland explained that due to the covert nature, it would never appear on my military record that I was had been to Laos. My record would show that I was still in school at Redstone Arsenal. I was instructed to write pre-dated letters for my parents and fiancé; these letters would be mailed during my absence so that it would appear I was still in AL. I gave the letters to Major McClelland before I left Redstone; evidently, they were periodically mailed because my parent and fiancé never realized that I was not in AL.

In return for “volunteering” for this assignment, I was “promised” assignment to Europe afterwards (a benefit that was normally available only to Regular Army Officers, not to Reserve Army Officers such as I was). By taking this assignment, I would not be required to serve the standard one-year tour in Viet Nam.

In early September, I traveled via airplane from Redstone Arsenal to Dallas, Texas to Travis Air Force Base (California) to Tan Son Nhut (Viet Nam) to Long Chieng (Laos). From Long Chieng, I boarded a PILATEOS (light transport) to base camp in the Ban Ban area of Laos. It is important to note that I was traveling as an individual, not as part of a unit; I did not know anyone on this assignment until I met them at the base camp. The mission was aborted before completion due to a number of factors: (1) a Hmong Chieftain was assassinated (in my presence), thus compromising our location; (2) monsoon season; and (3) we became unsupportable due to our geographical position in northern Laos.

As was the case with my entry into Laos, I left Laos as an individual, not as part of any unit. Based on my earlier “word” to Major McClelland, I never spoke to anyone about my experience. As noted earlier, I did not know any of the others on the mission and never attempted to keep in touch. This is part of the reason I have not been able to get in touch with anyone that could collaborate my time in Laos. I am not even sure that everyone with me was United States Army; I had suspicions that some may have been with the Central Intelligence Agency (maybe Major McClelland) which is the reason for this letter.

Please note that I am not asking any classified information regarding the nature of the mission be divulged. I just need confirmation from a reliable source that I was in Laos…nothing more.

If there are any fees for searching for, for reviewing, or copying the records, please notify me before processing if the amount exceeds $100.00.
If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law.
If you have any questions about handling this request, you may telephone me at 704-362-3413. I anxiously await your response. It has taken me forty years to admit finally that I still need help coping with my experience…only now to be denied the care because I cannot prove I was in Laos serving my country.
Richard Norton Kieselbach

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