44. Editorial Note

On November 20, 1969, John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council staff sent a memorandum to Henry Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, about the imprisoned helicopter crew in North Korea. Holdridge indicated that “State proposed to authorize the United Nations Commander in Korea to sign the apology proposed by the North Koreans, when he believes this will result in a simultaneous release of the three imprisoned helicopter crew members. The UN Commander is authorized to sign a receipt going no farther than the language of the apology. When the prisoners are released, the UN Command spokesman is authorized to make a low-key statement denying the ‘criminal act’ and setting forth the facts of the case.” Kissinger initialed his approval of an attached Department of State cable to Seoul, which was sent as telegram 19634, November 21. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Helicopter Incident)

On December 2, North Korea released the U.S. helicopter crew after receiving an official apology. The United Nations Command released a statement at Panmunjom, together with a document signed that day by Major General Arthur H. Adams, Senior Member, United Nations Command Side, MAC, which explained that “to secure release of the three helicopter crew members, General Adams was authorized to sign a statement today that the United Nations Command side had committed a ‘criminal-act’ by ‘infiltrating’ the helicopter ‘deep’ into the territory under the control of North Korea.” The complete texts of both documents are printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 22, 1969, page 583.