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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Tallon] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. TALLON. Mr. Speaker, I am coming before my colleagues today to bring to their attention a serious matter that has been ignored by our government for the past four years.

I am talking about the tragic plane crash that killed 248 American Soldiers and 8 others at Gander, Newfoundland, in December 1985. We all remember that crash because it was the worst military crash in American peacetime history. Canadians remember the crash because it was the worst air disaster in their history.

The official version of the crash states wing icing, mechanical failures, and human error as the causes of the crash. The Canadian and United States Governments continue to uphold this theory despite contradictory evidence indicating that it could have been the result of a terrorist act.

Even though it was a tragedy of terrific magnitude for both countries, the United States Government deferred all responsibility for the official investigation and report on the crash to the Canadian Government. And yet, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Army, and the FBI did investigate the scene.

Keep in mind that we are talking about an U.S. civilian plane that was chartered to carry American servicemen and women to an American destination.

At the very least, the official report should have been a joint effort between the Canadians and the Americans. I want to know why it was not.

Why was there such a cynical disregard for the loss of American military lives by the appropriate Federal agencies? And why has there been a callous reluctance to respond to the families of these victims when they have asked U.S. agencies for answers to their many questions?

Recently, too many credible sources have spoken out in support of the theory that the plane may have been the target of a terrorist attack. Allow me to give some examples.

In December 1988, the Canadian Air Safety Board finally released the official report which ruled that the crash was caused by ice contamination. This conclusion was by no means unanimous.

Four of the nine members of the board released a dissenting opinion from which I will quote:

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. . . We cannot agree--indeed, we categorically disagree--with the majority findings . . . The evidence shows that the Arrow Air DC-8 suffered an on-board fire and a massive loss of power before it crashed . . . The fire may have been associated with an in-flight detonation from an explosive or incendiary device.

The Airline Pilots Association which re-examined the flight recorder information said that the Canadian report was based on `manufactured data.' I quote from the association's report:

This study, contracted by the Canadian Air Safety Board, represents technical dishonesty at its highest.

Many, many other allegations into the faulty investigation and possible coverup by Canadian and American officials have been addressed in the press. I will list just a few which have followed this story: U.S.A. Today, the Army Times, Counter-Terrorism and Security Intelligence, the Ottawa Citizen, the St. Petersburg Times, and Jack Anderson.

It's not only the press that is involved in getting to the bottom of this mess. The Labor Party in Canada has charged that the Canadian Board is involved in a coverup and has demanded a judicial review to include all available evidence and testimony.

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed a resolution on June 28 of this year calling for the United States and Canadian Governments to reopen the investigation.

The bottom line--the Gander crash remains a mystery to the Canadian and American public. Families of these soldiers have suffered too long and have heard too much evidence to indicate that their government is either hiding something from them or is just plain lying to them.

I am submitting for the record a list of over 30 questions written by Mrs. Zona Phillips, of St. Petersburg, FL, the leader of the group Families for the Truth About Gander. I believe that the appropriate U.S. Federal agencies should address these questions with candor and clarity.

I have also written to Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney and Attorney General Richard Thornburgh requesting their full cooperation in answering questions. I am submitting for the record a copy of these letters.

No words can express my gratitude to Constance Farmer and Dana Edmonds, of Hartsville, SC, for bringing this matter to my attention with a very detailed and moving letter which I will also submit for the record. They lost their son and brother Capt. Kyle Edmonds and it is for them and for the other families that I am bringing this matter to my colleagues in Congress.

Mr. Speaker, I include the following material:

House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, July 12, 1989.

Hon. Richard Cheney,
Secretary of Defense, The Pentagon, Washington, DC.

Dear Dick: Last week I had a disturbing visit from two constituents who four years ago lost a family member in the tragic crash of the charter plane over Gander, Newfoundland.

The mother and sister of Captain Kyle Edmonds have joined with other families of the 248 peace-keeping soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division who were also killed in an effort to garner more information on the circumstances of the crash. Yet, to this date they have received little response from the government.

Their demand for a full accounting of the investigation comes after several independent investigations have yielded piece-meal, yet substantial evidence which indicates that the plane was the target of a terrorist mission.

Some of the most compelling arguments for this theory come from four members of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB) who had dissented from the Authority's official report stating that the crash was caused by ice contamination and possibly flight weight and a balance problem. These board members cite physical evidence of an explosion and additional intelligence evidence of the involvement of the alleged terrorist group Islamic Jihad. A recent Washington Post column even opens the theory that the chartered plane may have had some role in the events surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal.

Dick, I am sure that you agree that the relatives of these soldiers deserve to have answers to such questions. It is the responsibility of the government to provide a thorough explanation of the crash that killed their loved ones.

I am requesting from you that the channel of communication be opened between the D.O.D. and these people. It is the very least we can do for the soldiers who died in that tragic crash.

Looking forward to working with you on this very sensitive matter, I am


Robin Tallon,
Member of Congress.



House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, July 13, 1989.

Hon. Richard Thornburgh,
Secretary, Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

Dear Mr. Thornburgh: I am writing to you regarding the tragic December 1985 crash of the chartered plane carrying 248 American soldiers in Gander, Newfoundland.

Last week the mother and sister of Captain Kyle Edmonds, of Hartsville, South Carolina, who died in the crash, visited my office. My constituents along with the other families of victims have had little success in obtaining information about the crash from the United States government.

Their determination to learn more about the crash has intensified recently with allegations that point to the possibility that the crash may have been caused by a terrorist act. The United States official conclusion concurs with the report by the Canadian Air Safety Board (CASB) that the crash was caused by wing ice contamination and a flight weight and balance problem. However, four of the nine members of the CASB have dissented from their own report.

In addition, a recent Washington Post column further suggests an association of the Gander crash with the Iran-Contra Scandal. In light of these new allegations, the families of these soldiers deserve accessibility to all relevent information about the death of their loved ones.

It is my understanding that the F.B.I. has a report that is largely censored on the Gander crash. I am requesting the pertinent contents of this report be made available to the families. At the very least, I expect that the Justice Department will open the lines of communication with these families and to work with them to see that their many questions are answered once and for all.

Looking forward to working with you on this very critical matter, I am


Robin Tallon,
Member of Congress.



Families for Truth About Gander


1. Why were air charters used rather than military craft? (Who makes that decision and why is it done?)

2. Why was there such lax security on the plane in Cairo and Cologne? (Why leave it to the charter for security?)

3. If charter flights are to be used why not fly them into military bases rather than into regular airports?

4. Why was the baggage security so lax?

5. What was on the cargo manifest (what did the Army load on the plane)? Why wasn't the cargo manifest released (members of the C.A.S.B. did not have it made available to them.) What is the U.S. Army trying to hide? (What was in the boxes?)

6. How many passengers were onboard the Arrow flight? (One stewardess and pilot who flew the Cairo to Cologne leg, stated that the plane was full. The papers reported for some time after the crash 250 soldiers killed. The autopsy reports listed 258 numbers assigned to bodies and there were two bodies missing from their numbers. This was never adequately explained. Given the time of year, before the holidays, it would seem logical the plane would be full. The soldiers were waiting to get home and some would have been on stand-by, in the event anyone, for any reason, did not take that flight. Where is the passenger manifest?) Who were the other two people on the plane? (256 or 258?)

7. Why did the plane stop in Gander to refuel? Isn't that an unnecessary diversion? Was it to `tanker' fuel and save Arrow air money at the cost of the U.S. Army? Why didn't they fill up in Cologne? Was it because the fuel there is more expensive?

8. Why wasn't the plane maintained more properly?

9. Why all the delays in take-off time?

10. Why weren't the ground crews and maintenance crews questioned in Cairo and Cologne? Who worked on the plane? Who had access to the plane? Were they regular employees or terrorists? Was someone on the plane that should not have been?

11. Why did certain men write or call home and seem upset about something, before the crash? What was wrong? What did they know?

12. Why weren't more Arrow Air pilots questioned? Is it true that Arrow Air was flying into Tehran and Honduras? What for? Were they shipping arms to Iran and the Contras? Where did these arms come from? Were they stockpiled in the Sinai? What was going on at the base in the Sinai?

13. What was the C.I.D. officer bringing home with him? Why did the Pentagon change their story on this man and say that he was only `touring' not assigned in the Sinai, when he was in fact assigned there. Why were members of the 160th task force in the Sinai?

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14. Why did Major Crosby order the bulldozing of the crash site the day after the crash, before all the fires were out and all the bodies had been recovered? Was this ordered by the Pentagon? Did the C.A.S.B. or investigators question this request?

15. Why was Arrow Air representatives denied access to the crash site for 9 hours after the crash? Why hasn't the C.A.S.B. commented on this? What was wrong at the crash site they did not want them to see or know?

16. What were the explosions at the crash site after the crash? If there was no arms or explosives aboard, what was it?

17. Why did this particular DC-8 have two additional fire bottles installed in the wheel wells? Was it because the plane was hauling explosives?

17a. Why were the F.B.I. forensic experts denied access to the crash site the entire time they were in Gander? Why did the F.B.I. then say all they did was fingerprint identification and yet they did conduct an investigation (on what was a routine crash) and ask questions pertaining to terrorism. A report was issued some 277 pages long with most blacked out. What is all this about?

18. Why did the C.I.D., D.I.A., C.I.A. and U.S. Army investigate? What did they find? Where is their report? Why wasn't it given to the Canadian investigators and the C.A.S.B.?

18a. If the N.T.S.B. followed along behind the Canadian investigators why didn't they issue a report. They deny one was done. Why didn't they share their findings with the C.A.S.B.?

19. The F.A.A., the D.O.T. the D.O.D. and others did investigations and reports. Where are they? Why didn't the C.A.S.B. see these? Why all the secrecy if it was a routine flight and ice or mechanical failure caused the crash?

20. Why the cause of ice as the cause of the crash? There are twenty witnesses to prove no ice. Weather readings were taken from data 200 miles away from Gander. Planes that took off and landed before and after the Arrow crashed did not de-ice. They did not crash.

21. Why didn't investigators question people at the crash site? Why did they wait days to do it? Why weren't all witnesses called to testify? Why did they treat witnesses in such a casual manner and dismiss their testimony as statistically unfounded? (imagination?)

22. Why weren't ground crew personnel questioned at the public inquiry? Why weren't their testimonies important? Was it because it had already been decided `ice' would be used as the cause?

23. Why were the claims of responsibility (by terrorists) for the crash, dismissed by the U.S. and Canadian Governments before they investigated, two hours later while the fires were burning? How could they know? Wasn't the claim made by one caller even more astonishing, due to the fact he knew the plane was delayed in Cologne? Why such an obviously fast denial? What were they hiding? Who else besides the F.B.I. investigated this? Why did the State Department alert Egypt Air after the crash telling them to watch out for terrorists? (Egypt Air flies them from the camp to Cairo.)

24. Who investigated the possibility of terrorism in Canada? What expertise do they have in terrorism and bombs?

Where is their report? Why didn't the C.A.S.B. have access to it?

25. Why was the critical evidence withheld from the C.A.S.B. board? (F.B.I. report, autopsy report, cargo and passenger report, aerial photographs of the crash site, and many others.) How can a thorough investigation be done like this? How can it be done without the reports by the American agencies involved? Especially a military plane.

26. The autopsy reports that were done in Canada were based on questionable data. Many leading forensic pathologists disagree on their findings. The toxicological reports did not prove one way on another that there was or was not . . . a precrash fire or explosion aboard the aircraft. Dr. Sheppard in London, a leading forensic pathologist disagreed with A.F.I.P. findings and those in Canada. His report was never considered. Much mystery and many questions lie unanswered concernings the autopsy reports and the toxicology reports.

27. What happened to the cockpit microphone recording? Was it really turned off or did they not want to reveal what was on it?

28. Why did they fabricate the information given to Dayton, Ohio for computer simulated studies? Were they still trying to prove the ice theory? (This has been proven by the U.S. Airline Pilots Association, it was fabricated.)

29. One fire bottle extinguisher was found to have been discharged before impact and the master fire warning lights were found to be on at time of impact. Why was this key piece of evidence excluded from the investigation? Didn't the fact that the pilot had activated the fire extinguisher and turned on the fire warning light tell them anything?

30. If #4 engine did go in to reverse thrust after take off why did C.A.S.B. investigators dismiss it? Why did they dismiss all the data on this theory that fit the actual pattern of impact perfectly. Was it because they were afraid that the manufacturers would then be involved in the investigation and discover that an explosion caused the engine to go into reverse thrust?

31. Why was Mr. Irving Pinkle's report dismissed outright? (He is a world renowned explosives expert and N.A.S.A. specialist with startling credentials. Why weren't the metal tests done that he ordered? Did R.C.M.P really expect to find residue on the metal after the plane burned for 20 hours? The plane parts were left in a hanger in piles. Mr. Pinkle still found a section of aircraft that showed definite signs of an explosion. How could they not consider this if this investigation was thorough? Why didn't they put the plane back together? Why did they bury the wreckage before the investigation was completed? Why did they haul plane parts to Scott Airforce Base in Illinois? Why didn't they tell anyone about this? What did they do with these parts there? Where are the reports on this? Why wasn't C.A.S.B. told? Why Scott Air Force Base? Is it because it is M.A.C. headquarters? What reports did M.A.C. issue? Where did they go? Where are the plane parts now?

32. Why was the project to reconstitute the captain's air speed card, that was found on the yolk in a burned condition cancelled in 1987 by the director of investigation? Was he worried that the results would not fit his icing . . . ?

33. If the plane landed as they said it did, rather than blow up, where were the ground scars from the tail section and landing gear? They never found them. Why was the tail section lying in a clump of trees with all the trees around it standing perfectly straight? (If it landed as they said it did.) There was a tree pierced through the tail section that was still standing straight. Part of the fuselage was laying behind the tail section--doesn't that seem odd?

34. In January of 1986, the Army came back and found another body. This after stating that they had found everyone. They collected every scrap they could find, put it all into bags and left. They never came back or were heard from again. Why didn't the investigators examine all of this? In the Pan Am 103 they examined every shred of evidence. They painstakingly checked every fragment. They reconstructed everything they could. Why not in this case? What was different about this crash, that it should have been handled in this way?

35. Firefighters who worked at the crash site and became ill were studied and found to have `post-traumatic stress disorder'. They suffer from headaches, nausea, blood and liver problems, and yet they never tested their blood, urine or did x-rays of these people. Why not? This study did nothing for these people nor did it determine what might have been on the plane or caused the crash. Was this another cover-up? You bet. If not this is one more doctored report.

36. Why do the members of the Conservative Party and the Minister of Transportation continually refuse to order a full `judicial inquiry' into the cause of the crash? This was the worst crash in Canadian history. They have called for judical inquiries in past accidents they had the less loss of life. With the tremendous amount of public pressure and political pressure on them to do so, you have to wonder, why? The truth should fear no trial. The answers are obvious--cover-up.

37. Why the lack of interest in our own Government? No one seems to care and no one wants to be bothered. No one wants to know? They already know. Now we want to know.

There are many more questions. The mystery continues and more doubts surface daily. As an American you have to ask yourself, why 256 Americans died in a foreign land, possibly murdered, wouldn't the President want to know sooner than 3 years later? Would he leave it to the Canadians to muck around for all that time to get the result? Or had it already been decided what the cause would be, so the answers really did not matter . . . we believe so. One small statement sums it up perfectly, `It was an orchestrated litany of lies and fabrication'. (Quote: Mr. Ross Stevenson) This was a Canadian and American tragedy, that became a Canadian and American disgrace. Why?

(Dr. and Mrs. J.D. Phillips, founders of Families For Truth About Gander.)



July 20, 1989.

Dear Congressman Tallon: We are the mother and sister of Captain Kyle Lee Edmonds who was killed in the Gander, Newfoundland plane crash that happened on December 12, 1985. The Arrow Air Charter crashed on take off, killing all 248 soldiers and 8 crew members on board. Kyle and his comrades were on their way home for Christmas. They had just completed Peace Keeping duties in the Sinai. They were members of the 101st AirBorne division out of Ft. Campbell Ky.

We don't know how to tell you the great enormity of the loss our family, has suffered. Kyle was born in Aiken, S.C. and grew up in Hartsville, where he was a graduate of Hartsville High in 1975. Then he went on to graduate from the Citadel with top honors in 1979. He chose the army as his career. He then went to Ft. Benning for AirBorne, then on to Ft. Stewart and then Ft. Campbell. He had only been in the army for 3 years before be became Captain. And was up for a promotion upon his arrival home. He dedicated his life to serving his country.

Kyle always said, `Be truthful and stand up for what you believe in.' And he believed in his country, so much that he gave his life for it. He loved his family, friends and life as well as he was loved by others. And now this person that we admired and loved has been taken from us. We really can't express how much Kyle meant to us.

But great as his love and dedication was for his job as a military officer, it is now our job as a family to find out the `truth why' we don't have our loved one with us anymore. And we are dedicated to finding the truth no matter how long it takes. We are members of a group called Families for Truth about Gander. At present, there are 75 families and our numbers are growing. This group of families came together in January 1989.

We are currently fighting Two Governments, for a single and rare commodity in today's world. The `Truth' about this tragedy. All of us are average and patriotic Americans. We are not Politicians, Literary experts, Public speakers, Speech writers, Aviation experts, Investigators, nor are we experienced in Public relations. All of us love America. We gave our loved ones for this country, but we are saddened and concerned about our government and its actions. It is very difficult to understand, how Two Christian, Civilized nations could revere politics more than loss of life and prevention of human suffering. It would appear, that some would serve Politics as their God, rather than the God of our fathers, on whose teachings our countries were founded. Those teachings include: Truth, Justice and Integrity. It is apparent that both countries no longer hold these as sacred.

Whenever you mix politics and Justice, you never get `True' Justice! We think that both Canada and the United States are well aware of the `True' cause of the Gander crash, but for reasons which are beyond our comprehension, they have continued to perpetrate a deception. When those we have elected to protect, Serve and defend us, Forsake us for their own selfish motives, In the name of Politics, We are indeed Nations in Peril.

We have waited three long years for the conclusion, which when received was totally Ludicrous. To further discover; the limited extent of the investigation, the great internal strife that existed within the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, the vast amount of information withheld by the investigators and the United States Government agencies, and the fighting between Political parties over this situation, caused extreme concern, that this was indeed a cover-up and that the Gander issue was now a Political `Football.' We are speaking of `The worst Aviation disaster in Canadian history' and `The greatest loss of Military men in Peace time'--`The second longest day.'

The Canadian Aviation Safety Board was split 5 to 4 over the cause of the crash. The 5 majority board members stated, `The most probable cause of the crash was ice contamination on the leading edge and upper surface of the wings.' There are at least 20 witnesses, that worked on or near the plane, that are willing to testify that there was no ice on the wings of the aircraft.

Further, there is no evidence to prove that there was ice on the wings. But there is proof that there was no ice on the wings. The U.S. Airline Pilots Association report that came out June 23, 1989, proved the Canadians relied on fabricated and erroneous information. And that there was no ice on the wings. And the flight recorder had been tampered with.

The 4 minority members of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, plus another member, who resigned over the dissension stated, `An in-flight fire, that may have resulted from Detonations of undetermined origin brought about catastrophic system failures.' The possibility of Sabotage was never investigated by the R.C.M.P. or the investigators! Many claims of responsibility by Terrorist groups were never investigated. Two hours after these claims were made Both Governments dismissed them. How could they know without a complete investigation? Mr. Irving Pinkel, a well renown Explosion Expert, stated that the crash was indeed caused by an explosion! Dr. R.T. Sheperd, of London, England, an expert in Forensic Pathology, Disagreed with the autopsy reports done by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Dover. He questioned their results, which claimed, that some of the victims could have survived as long as 5 minutes, even though they had multiple and extremely severe amputations. This conclusion reached by Dover, then supported the majority conclusion of `Probable Invisible Ice.' Dr. R.T. Sheperd's reports have never been made part of the evidence and Investigation! People who worked at the crash site have reported illnesses of Questionable nature. The Cargo Manifest has never been released! What was on the plane? Why all the Secrecy and Hiding of Evidence?

It is interesting to note, that the 4 minority members of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, and the resigned member possess more impressive credentials than the majority. They are as follows;

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1. Mr. Mussalem: Aeronautical Engineer and Pilot

2. Mr. La Croix: Brigadier General of the Canadian Air Force. With 7,000 flight hours. He is a resigned member .

3. Mr. Stevenson: Airline Pilot and Military pilot in WWII..

4. Dr. Filotas: Aeronautical Engineer-Ph.D.

5. Mr. L Bobitt: Aeronatical Engineer-Masters Degree.

Valuable and critical information was withheld from these board members who were named above. It was as if it was decided early in the investigation what the cause would be, anything that did not fit that scenaria was eliminated or withheld. Witnesses who spoke to investigators and whose testimony did not fit their preconceived cause of the crash were discredited or treated as though it did not matter and was of no importance. There was every opportunity in the world for Sabotage! The plane was at Cairo and Cologne for an extended period of time, was virtually Unguarded and was loaded and attended by Non-Military Personnel.

This is a matter of Record! The baggage was loaded by Egyptian Contracted Personnel. It was not thoroughly checked. Wooden boxes were loaded and to this day, No one will state what was in them. In Germany Contracted German Personnel serviced the plane. In both places the cargo doors were opened! None of these people who worked on the plane at either location, were ever questioned! Why not? The explosion occurred in the forward baggage compartment!

The transport Minister, Benoit Bouchard has repeatedly denied a request for a `Judicial Inquiry'. At one time he stated, that it would be `Irresponsible'. He has instead called for a review by a `Retired' Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Estey. The scope of this review is extremely and dangerously limited! No new evidence can be submitted, no testimony can be heard by anyone, and a review like this has never been held before! Minister Bouchard called for this review due to pressure that was being placed on him by the Liberal Party and the press. His other motives for this were to stall for time until the Parliament and House of Commons were in Recess. To Prematurely disband the Canadian Aviation Safety Board and establish a new Multimoda board. This would them rid him of the Minority members of the board, who opposed the majority decision for the Gander crash. All this before Mr. Justice Estey makes his recommendations, concerning the Gander incident and it is known which faction is correct. It is interesting to note that Minister Bouchard's own department found that the investigation was mismanaged and he knew nothing about it! At that time his resignation was called for. The United States Government has steadfastly refused to help us in this matter. The State Department has stated that they have no further information and that this is an Internal matter, in Canada. Therefore, they can not be involved. There is a multitude of agencies in this country that have conducted investigations into this tragedy. Included are the N.T.S.B., The C.I.D., The State Department, The Pentagon, The Department of Transportation, The Justice Department, The Military Airlift Command, and the Department of the Army.

They will not release any of their findings to the Canadian Aviation Safety Board! How then can there be a thorough Investigation? The N.T.S.B. states that the Canadian Investigation was thorough. They agree with the majority findings of `Probable, Invisible Ice.' They question nothing! The week of May 8, 1989, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Phillips whose son was on the plane, and organized the group of Families for Truth about Gander went to Ottawa, Canada, and met with the Liberal Caucus, the minority members of the Canadian Aviation Safety board, press, and media. They made known our plea for a Judicial Inquiry into the Gander Crash. The public there support us, as do all of those above. We are certainly not alone in our fears of a Cover-Up! We are afraid that this is a Cover-Up of Gigantic Proportions! Is it possible this could be tied into the Iran-Contra situation? The Plans of Oliver North and his associates began to fall apart days before the crash. We think there is more than a possibility that this situation put our loved ones in `Harms' Way!'

We now have information that Arrow Air was flying arms to the Contras. If 256 lives were lost because of Covert, Illegal, and Illicit activity perpetrated by members of our Government--We have to know! These men and women were not Expendable items! They trusted their government to protect them as much as they protected this country, not to put them into a position where they could be targets in Peace time! If this is the case this is indeed Criminal Action! There is so much more that we could discuss. This is a most complicated situation. We have accumulated boxes and boxes of documents and data. If you wish additional information we will be happy to send it. If you wish others to contact in this matter we will be pleased to give you their names and how they can be contacted. Time is running out for Us. With Media attention, Limited as it has been in this country, we need a Miracle!

We are in desperate need of your help. We know how busy you must be, but hope that you can assist Us. A tragic Injustice has been done and you are our last hope. We hope that you will give this matter your immediate attention. We look forward to your reply.




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