KAL 007:Floating Shoes
On Monday, September 26, 1983, a delegation of seven Japanese and American officials arriving aboard the Japanese patrol boat Tsugaru, met a six-man Soviet delegation at the port of Nevelsk on Sakhalin Island. KGB Major General A. I. Romanenko, the Commander of the Sakhalin and Kuril Islands frontier guard, headed the Soviet delegation.* Romanenko handed over to the Americans and Japanese, among other things, single and paired footwear. With footwear that the Japanese also retrieved, the total came to 213 men's, women's and children's dress shoes, sandals, and sports shoes. The Soviets said that all that they had retrieved, they had found floating in the water or washed up on the shores of Sakhalin and Moneron islands.
Worn by the passengers for the Flight
Family members of KAL 007 passengers would later state that these shoes were actually worn by their loved ones for the flight on that fateful night. Sonia Munder had no difficulty recognizing the sneakers of her children, one of Christian, age 14 and one of Lisi, age 17, by the intricate way her children laced them. (Sonia confirmed that her children were wearing these shoes when they boarded the flight). Another mother says, "I recognized them just like that. You see, there are all kinds of inconspicuous marks which strangers do not notice. This is how I recognized them. My daughter loved to wear them." And yet, another mother (and maybe it takes a mother!), Nan Oldham identified her son, John's, sneakers from a photo in Life magazine of 55 of the 213 shoes—apparently, a random array on display those first days at Chitose Air Force Base in Japan. "We saw photos of his shoes in a magazine," says Nan, "We followed up through KAL and a few weeks later, a package arrived. His shoes were inside: size 11 sneakers with cream white paint." John Oldham had taken his seat in row 31 of KAL 007 wearing those cream white paint spattered sneakers. He had just come from painting his suburban Washington, D.C., family home.
From an examination of the shoes in the photo of Life magazine, pairing the sets and counting them with the single shoes, and relating them to the whole, it turns out that the total amount of shoes retrieved account for 198 of the 269 people of KAL 007 - or almost 74% of the total.
The Soviets retrieved the shoes of some portion of this 74% of the flight's passengers, yet claimed not to have found one single body, not one person. This adds great weight to the question "Where are the bodies?" Either the shoes were on the bodies and removed by the Soviets (or the Japanese), or they were removed by the wearers and retrieved by the Soviets (or Japanese). Why were these shoes loose? Were they taken off in preparation for the landing or were they simply removed during the course of the flight? In either case, the one great question remains.
Is it really possible for so many shoes to be found and not one single person found to wear them? And if we should negate that the shoes were taken off in preparation for a ditching - that there was no time to do so, or the aircraft was in an exploded and too disintegrated condition to do so, then another question arises - If the non appearance of bodies is explained by their flesh being eaten by crabs, and, contrary to expert opinion, bones eaten by sea creatures, is it really credible, that not one of the 213 items of footwear had a foot, or a toe or a toe bone within it?
The Fate of Gen Romanenko
- Note - Gen. Romanenko would meet a bad end due (according to the Republican Staff Report) to his handling of KAL 007 matters. The Republican Staff Study reports that he was probably sent to the Gulag himself. The Israeli Research Centre for Prisons, Psych-Prisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR, resting on informant information reported, independently and prior to the Staff Study, that Romanenko's name no longer appears in KGB computers. (Once in, a person is noted as reassigned, deceased, retired, etc., but never deleted. It is as if Gen. Romanenko never existed). And finally, Hans Ephraimson-Abt, the head of the US families of the victims association, reports that while he was in East Germany at the Soviet embassy, he was informed by embassy officials that Gen. Romanenko, whom he had come to enquire about (he had not!), had committed suicide. Of course, each in its own time, could have been true.