- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

Coming home

Last November, Inside the Beltway called attention to the remains of up to five U.S. Navy airmen still sitting above ground in Greenland, where they perished in 1962 while hunting for Russian submarines.

“They are not under ice, but visible every summer when the snow melts,” said retired naval officer George G. Fabik of Allentown, Pa. “They were last seen in 2001. This has to be considered a national disgrace. They did die in the service of their country.”

Now, 42 years later, a military and civilian team of 16 men departed Norfolk yesterday in hopes of recovering the remains.

Bob Pettway, a former Navy radio operator and retired Secret Service agent, explained to this column that a dozen naval crewmen in all vanished on Jan. 12, 1962. In August 1966, four British geologists were traversing the Kronborg Glacier on Greenland’s east coast and happened upon the crash site — the plane’s fuselage still intact. They took identification from several of the bodies and promptly reported the crash site to U.S. officials.

A Navy recovery team arrived at the site in September after a heavy snowfall. They spent 24 hours digging through the deep snow to recover what remains they could, then detonated explosives to destroy the aircraft and any classified materials.

All told, the team recovered seven identifiable bodies and partial remains of possibly three more crewmen, which could not be identified. The seven were buried either at Arlington National Cemetery or in family plots, while a separate Arlington ceremony was held in 1966 for the unidentified remains — buried in a common grave bearing the names of the remaining five.

In August 1995, exploring geologists again came upon the crash site, where they photographed the remains of at least two crewmen. But the Navy took the position that because the plane crashed during peacetime, it did not fall within the scope of “full recovery” rules approved by Congress during wartime.

That position has now changed. Mike Maus, with the Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, in Norfolk, tells this column that the recovery of the bodies is as important for the Navy as it is for the families.

“We’re all enthused and excited to be able to go in and do this and help the families more than anything else, to help bring closure to the whole issue,” he says. “We in the Navy feel very strongly about not leaving anybody behind — ever. We always want to bring our people home.”

Kofi tax?

The potential for the rift between the United States and the United Nations to grow wider is definitely on the agenda as the world body prepares to consider “global taxes” to fund development.

“The proposals to be considered include a carbon tax on fuel use, a tax on currency transactions, an arms-sales tax, a global lottery and a tax on international airline travel,” reveals IISD Linkages, a resource for environmental and development policy-makers.

The issue of global taxation, says the report, is heavily opposed by powerful nations such as the United States and Japan, but other key countries embrace the idea.

“France and Germany, backed by Chile and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, signed a declaration in January re-launching the concept of taxing arms sales and financial transactions to boost funding for global development efforts in combating poverty and hunger,” says IISD.

Law of the land

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged the San Antonio Express-News and Hearst Communications Inc., its parent company, with violating the Fair Housing Act.

The newspaper accepted and published 42 ads for rental housing that excluded potential renters because of their race, religion, sex, national origin or familial status.

“Some newspapers still do not understand their obligations even though the Fair Housing Act has been the law of the land for more than three decades,” says HUD Assistant Secretary Carolyn Peoples.

The newspaper has been under investigation since late 2000, although this specific charge stems from a 2002 complaint filed by the Fair Housing Council. Typical of the “illegal” ads, which ran between 2000 and 2002:

• “Hispanic or White male pref., to share home … ”

• “Beautiful historic house … No pets/children.”

A hearing is set for Oct. 5 before a U.S. administrative law judge, although attorneys representing HUD and the newspaper could request the case be decided by a federal judge in U.S. District Court.

For sale

Purchase John McCaslin’s new book at BarnesandNoble.com.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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