Serial 1681-07

[Editor’s note: Serial 1681-07 is the FD-302 version of the interview with Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Dwyer, which was released as a State Department document at Serial 669, the text of which is here. The main difference is that various typographical errors have been corrected in the reformatting of the document.]

[This section of Serial 1681 covers page 25-49 of the FBI Report of January 12, 1979.]

FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 12/28/78

Richard A. Dwyer, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of the American embassy at Georgetown, Guyana, was contacted on 11/23/78, for details concerning the killing of Congressman Leo Ryan at Port Kaituma, Guyana on 11/18/78. DCM Dwyer was the control officer for the visit of Congressman Ryan to Guyana, and was wounded at Port Kaituma. DCM Ryan [Dwyer] advised he was preparing an official report, and would make a copy available.

[Page 1 of telegram]

Telegram
30/2200Z NOV 78
From Amembassy GEORGETOWN
Classification Limited Official Use
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO), GY
SUBJ: DCM’S REPORT ON CODEL RYAN’S VISIT TO JONESTOWN AND SUBSEQUENT MURDER
ACTION: SecState WASHDC
Limited Official Use GEORGETOWN 4041
REF: A. STATE 301207 B. GEORGETOWN 4013

There follows a report of American embassy Georgetown DCM Richard A. Dwyer, control officer for Codel Ryan, of the visit of Congressman Ryan to the People’s Temple Agricultural Community at Jonestown, in northwest Guyana, and the subsequent murder of Congressman Ryan and four other Americans at the airstrip in Port Kaituma. The account begins with the group’s departure from Timehri airport in Georgetown on Friday, November 17, and concludes with the return of the bodies of the slain Americans toward dusk of Sunday, November 19. A subsequent cable will deal with the Codel’s activities in Georgetown before the departure for Jonestown.

The local police have requested a statement from Dwyer. Please advise whether the department concurs in making a copy of this report or an abbreviated version thereof available to the Guyanese police.

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Begin text: 1. Congressman Ryan’s party departed from Timehri airport Friday, Nov 17, at approximately 1400 hours. The group had no absolute assurances from the People’s Temple that it would be received at the People’s Temple Agricultural Community in Jonestown before its departure.

2. The group consisted of Congressman Ryan; his aide, Ms. Jackie Speiers [Speier]; and myself, Counselor of Embassy Richard Dwyer, the escort officer to Congressman Ryan; four Concerned Relatives, Mrs. Oliver, Ms. Carol Boyd, Mr. Jim Cobb and Mr. Anthony Katsarsis [Katsaris]; two lawyers for People’s Temple, Mr. Mark Lane and Mr. Charles Garry; and eleven newsmen, including a four-man NBC news team headed by Mr. Bob Flick and including Messrs. Bob Brown, Don Harris and Steve Sung; Mr. Lindsay of the national enquirer, Mr. Charles Krause of the Washington Post, Mr. Greg Robinson and Mr. Tim Reiterman of the San Francisco Examiner, and Mr. Ron Javers of the San Francisco Chronicle. We were also accompanied by Ministry of Information Officer Neville Annibourne.

3. Shortly before the plane’s approach to Port Kaituma, the pilot, Captain Spence, informed me he had had a radio call from the tower in Georgetown conveying a message from the PT at Jonestown that the Port Kaituma airstrip was not servicable and was unsafe. The group discussed the possibility of going into Matthews Ridge; however, Captain Spence suggested making a pass at the runway at Port Kaituma to

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determine its condition. The strip appeared in good condition and we went into Port Kaituma where the plane landed at about 1530. Capt Spence informed me later that a fellow pilot from the GDF [Guyana Defense Force] had gone into Port Kaituma earlier in the day and had had no reports on runway difficulties.

4. The group was met by about six PT representatives including Tim Carter upon our descent from the plane. The PT representatives were uncommunicative to most of the group and drew aside to talk with their two lawyers. The lawyers announced that the PT had decided that the two lawyers should go to Jonestown and confer with Jim Jones on whether the remainder of the group would be allowed to enter Jonestown. It was pointed out to the members of the PT and their lawyers that the plane had to leave Port Kaituma before darkness at about 6:00 p.m. The two counsels then departed with members of the PT in the large truck which was used by the PT to traverse the bad road into the Temple. This and the PT tractor were purported to be the only vehicles in the area able to make the trip. A few minutes later, however, the truck reappeared and the lawyers announced that it had been decided that the congressman, his aide, Ms. Speiers, and myself would be permitted to accompany the group. After several delays, including one delay necessary to remove from the Jonestown road a two wheel cart loaded with heavy logs, the group entered Jonestown at about 1630 or 1700 hours. After talks with Jim Jones and other leaders of the PT,

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during which Congressman Ryan expressed the opinion that free entry to and egress from Jonestown were essential to prove that Jonestown is an open and free community, Jim Jones reluctantly agreed, upon the urging of counsel, to permit the newsmen and the Concerned Relatives to enter Jonestown. Mr. Jones decided, however, that Mr. Lindsay of the National Enquirer would not be permitted entry into Jonestown and Mr. Lindsay therefore returned with the plane to Georgetown.

5. The truck was sent to fetch the newsmen and the Concerned Relatives. It was agreed that the congressman’s party would pass the night at Jonestown while the remainder of the group would have dinner at Jonestown but spend the night at Port Kaituma and return the following morning. While awaiting the press and Concerned Relatives to arrive, Congressman Ryan and his aide, Ms. Speiers, began interviewing the numerous residents of Jonestown about whom they had had inquiries or other reports. With the arrival of the newsmen supper was served to the visitors and a number of the leaders of Jonestown. The newsmen were able to speak with Jim Jones and others for some considerable time.

6. It was announced that following supper a musical show would be presented by the “Jonestown Express”, a group preparing for its annual Christmas concert in Jonestown. Mrs. Jones announced to the assembled group that no one need be photographed if they did not wish to be, that the NBC team would be

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using bright lights and television cameras and that if anyone did not wish to be photographed, they should raise their hands and the lights would be turned off and the TV cameras turned away from them. As the concert progressed, however, I observed no incidents of people refusing to be photographed. The musical show contained considerable talent and the people of Jonestown were very enthusiastic throughout the show and in apparent good humor.

7. Midway in the show Mrs. Jones got up and warmly introduced Congressman Ryan, who came to the stage to say a few words. The congressman noted that he had already met at Jonestown some of his former students, a school classmate of his daughter’s, and others with whom he had mutual friends or acquaintances. He said that he had already talked to a considerable number of residents of Jonestown and he was happy to hear that a number of these people felt that Jonestown was the greatest place on earth, upon which statement the audience rose with enthusiastic and prolonged applause. Congressman Ryan then went back to his interviewing and the show progressed. The congressman continued interviewing persons on his list, in private, following the show.

8. At the end of the evening I was approached by Mr. Vern Gosney, who asked me if I could arrange for him to get out of Jonestown that night as he was very, very frightened and was afraid that once he had been seen talking to me he would

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be in extreme danger. I replied that I could do nothing that night as I myself was staying at Jonestown but that Mr. Gosney if that was his wish, was welcome to leave Jonestown in the morning with the group. I noted that Mr. Jones and legal counsel had assured the congressman, the newsmen and myself that anyone who wished to leave with us was free to leave Jonestown. At about the same time Mr. Gosney had slipped a note to one of the NBC crew saying that he and Miss Monica Bagby wanted to leave.

9. At the conclusion of the evening’s interviewing, Congressman Ryan and I discussed the situation. Miss Bagby and Mr. Gosney were two persons who had clearly expressed the desire to depart, and the congressman thought that there might be others on his list of names to interview who also wished to depart. He noted he was saving his best documented cases for the morning. It was therefore agreed that Miss Bagby and Mr. Gosney would be put on the congressman’s list with those about whom the most serious concerns had been expressed and that they would be called for interviews by the congressman towards the end of the next morning, as shortly as possible before the group was scheduled to depart. The congressman and I agreed that despite Mr Jones’ assurances that people would be free to leave, there might be concern among the People’s Temple when it became apparent that some members were preparing to depart.

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10. Next morning, Saturday, Nov 18, the congressman began the remainder of his interviews. The news group returned and also began interviewing leaders and members of the PT. In the meantime the PT had given permission for one or two other Concerned Relatives then in Georgetown to come to Jonestown with the plane that was to pick up the congressman’s group and to spend some time in Jonestown with their relatives before returning to Georgetown by commercial means. The congressman and I agreed that this was undesirable. I explained on the radio to Consul [Doug] Ellice and to the congressman’s HIRC [House International Relations Committee] aide, Mr. James Scholleart, the decision that there should be no Concerned Relatives on the plane that went up to Port Kaituma to pick up the congressman and his party.

11. The NBC television news crew had also decided to tape its principal interview with Jim Jones shortly before departure Saturday. The news team had been told by a local official at Port Kaituma the previous evening, I later learned, that the official alleged that he had delivered to Jones at Jonestown an automatic weapon as well as GOG [Government of Guyana] permit to have the weapon. In the interview, however, Jones denied this report, as he had denied possession of anything more than a few shotguns for hunting since he arrived in Guyana.

12. At approximately 11:00, after consulting with Congressman Ryan, I called Jim Jones and his lawyers aside and informed them that there would be several people who wanted to leave

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Jonestown and that these people would depart with the congressman and myself. Mr. Jones was visibly upset but was calmed by Mr. Lane and Mr. Garry, who both pointed out that it appeared that only a half dozen to a dozen people wished to depart, which in its way was a credit to a community of 1100 to 1200 people. Congressman Ryan also stressed to Mr. Jones that unhindered departures would improve the image and reputation of the PT.

13. By approximately noon, in addition to Miss Bagby and Mr. Gosney, several members of the Park [Parks] family had expressed a desire to leave and were holding a family council to decide whether they should all depart together or whether some might remain in Jonestown. It was about 1330 when they decided that they would all depart at the same time with the congressman and myself and had collected their belongings. Congressman Ryan and Ms. Speiers went with members of the Park family to reassure them while they collected their belongings. The family consisted of grandmother, parents and four children and Mr. O’Neil, a close friend of daughter Brenda Park. It was apparent by this time that a second aircraft in addition to the GAC [Guyana Airline Corporation] twin Otter (which could hold 19 persons) would be needed and was requested by PT radio. A small aircraft of 5 passenger capacity was therefore sent up from Georgetown scheduled with the Otter to arrive in Port Kaituma at 2:00, according to messages received from Georgetown. As the

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departure time from Jonestown came closer, there were several other persons who expressed a desire to leave to the congressman and myself. It was agreed that the people from Jonestown would be given priority on the planes and that the press and Mr. Garry, who wished to return to Georgetown, would take subsequent aircraft. In addition to the Park family, the Bogue family, consisting of Jim Bogue, Mrs. Bogue, Tina [Teena] and Tommy, and a close family friend, Harold Cordell, were to leave with the group. At the last moment, Mr. Larry Layton urgently requested that he be permitted to leave and he entered the truck.

14. Congressman Ryan stated that as there were apparently still others who might wish to leave Jonestown, he and I would remain at Jonestown to insure their departure the following day. I was to accompany the departing group to the airport at Port Kaituma to oversee the departure and to relate to the captain of the GAC aircraft the requirements for aircraft the following day. I was also to stop at the assistant district officer’s office at Port Kaituma to relate these messages through that channel to assure prompt and accurate receipt by the embassy.

15. The group was loaded in the back of the large truck. I got on last. The truck started to depart but slid in the mud at the side of the track. The group was told that a bulldozer would be necessary to put it back on the track.

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(A previous delay had occurred which Ms. Speiers attributed to the fact that the driver of the truck wanted to leave with the group and refused to drive the truck out unless he could be given assurances that he could leave. He was told that he could leave with the group the next day.) As the group waited for the bulldozer to come to free the truck, shouts were heard from the central pavillion [pavilion] of Jonestown where Congressman Ryan was waiting, together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Garry, Mr. Lane and other ranking individuals of the pt. I ran from the truck to the pavillion where I found a small group surrounding the congressman, whose clothes were disheveled and bloody. The congressman had been attacked by a knife bearing distraught member of the PT who had been disarmed by Mr. Lane, Mr. Garry and others of the PT. The congressman was uninjured. I was told that the blood had come from a minor wound the assailant had suffered as the knife was taken from him. The congressman told Jim Jones that the incident would present a problem for the PT but that it was not one which could not be overcome if legal processes were allowed to take place. Jim Jones expressed the wish that he himself had been killed directly on the spot rather than that this incident should happen to the congressman. He said that the police had been called. He appeared deeply troubled. The congressman and I had a private conversation in which I urged the necessity for the congressman to leave Jonestown. The congressman agreed

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finally, to do so, with the understanding that I would return to Jonestown and organize the departure of those who wished to depart the following day after the congressman and group had left Port Kaituma for Georgetown. The congressman and I then joined the truck, which by this time had been freed from the mud, and proceeded to the airport at Port Kaituma approximately an hour away.

16. The truck stopped for a few moments at the entrance to Jonestown where it was joined by a guard from the gate, who made a careful survey of the passengers in the truck without speaking. Although the two aircraft had been scheduled to arrive at Port Kaituma at 1400, they were not there when the group arrived, about 1530. During the trip out, incidentally, several members of the group leaving Jonestown expressed to me and to others their concern that one Larry Layton had been permitted to joint the group as they considered him a fanatic follower of Mr. Jones and did not believe that he actually wished to leave the organization.

17. Upon arrival at the airport I asked Congressman Ryan to be sure all members of the group were thoroughly searched before being allowed to board the aircraft should they arrive before my return and to pay particular attention to Larry Layton about whom we had been warned.

18. As there no aircraft in sight upon the group’s reaching Port Kaituma airfield (except for the disabled

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Guyana Defense Force “Islander” under repair by four GDF members), the GOG information officer, Mr. Annibourne, who had accompanied the group throughout and I asked the driver of the PT truck to take us up to the district office at Port Kaituma to see if we could get in touch with Georgetown by radio to determine what had happened to the planes. I also wished to relay as quickly as possible an account of the attack at Jonestown on Congressman Ryan. We reached the district office only to be told that Assistant District Officer Thomas was across the way at a small establishment. As Mr. Annibourne and I were conversing with Mr. Thomas, relating the events of the day to him and asking that Georgetown and the police be contacted immediately, the two airplanes were sighted overhead preparing to land at Port Kaituma. The large Jonestown truck immediately turned around and departed for the airport to the surprise of Mr. Annibourne and myself. We therefore prevailed upon Assistant District Officer Thomas for transportation to the airport, which was supplied in the person of Mr. Jeffrey Sempel, a local businessman, and his truck. An individual with a shotgun, whom I took to be a police constable, although he was in mufti, also got into the back of the truck. Mr. Sempel, accompanied by Assistant District Officer Thomas, and Mr. Sempel’s two small children, drove Mr. Annibourne and me to the airport where the process of loading the airplanes had already begun. The journalists

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were still on the ground as they wished to film the departure and as not all of them could be accommodated in the two aircraft. The congressman was also on the runway. After a brief conversation with the congressman regarding the number of people who might wish to depart the following day, and the necessity of getting an aircraft back to Port Kaituma promptly the next day (during which conversation the congressman told me that the members of the group had been searched before they had been allowed on the plane), I walked over to discuss arrangements with Captain Spence, the pilot of the GAC aircraft, which was mid-way down the airstrip. The five seat Cessna was near the head of the runway, close to the disable GDF Islander.

19. Shortly thereafter shots rang out from a tractor and two trailers belonging to the PT which had been parked at the side of the runway nearest the aircraft. Shots also began from the PT truck parked in front of the airplane on the other side of the runway. Congressman Ryan ran under the nose of the aircraft or close by the nose of the aircraft to get away from the shots coming from the tractor and two trailers, as did I. I saw the congressman hit once and go down, apparently attempting to seek shelter behind the wheels of the aircraft. By this time I realized that shots were coming from both sides and that there was little hope of being able to cover the distance from the airplane to the

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side of the runway and into the shelter of the bush. I also saw that at least one and possibly two others of the group had already been hit. I therefore threw myself on the ground on my back to simulate death. As I was falling I was hit by a slug from what apparently was a small calibre weapon, possible a 22, in my left thigh. The firing continued for several minutes and then there was a short pause before the firing recommenced. It seemed to me that one or more of the assailants with shotguns was proceeding amongst the wounded, firing a blast at each of them. For unknown reasons I was not shot by those with the shotguns nor, it developed later, was Mr. Charles Krause of the “Washington Post”, who later told me that he also had feigned death on the other side of the congressman. The truck and tractor were heard to drive away and after a few moments those who had had not been wounded and the ambulatory wounded began to get to their feet. The pilots of the Otter aircraft, still in the cockpit, had not been attacked and the engines of the plane were continuing to run. I went over to the congressman, who had been badly hit. It was clear that he was dead; I then moved the body away from under the wheels of the aircraft and checked on the others. The NBC newsmen, Bob Brown and Don Harris, were both lying dead under and to the rear of the aircraft. I ran around to the steps of the aircraft where Mr. Greg Robinson of the San Francisco Examiner lay crumpled, also apparently killed instantly.

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I cannot recall whether I first saw Ms. Jackie Speiers still on board the aircraft or at the foot of the steps. I appeared evident, however, that she was seriously wounded as was Mr. Anthony Katsorsis [Katsaris], who lay near the foot of the aircraft steps. I ran up the steps of the aircraft where I found that Mrs. Patricia Park [Parks] had received what appeared to be the full blast of a shotgun in the back of her head. She was leaning across the aisle of the airplane. With the help of a local Amerindian who appeared on the scene I removed the body from the aircraft in the hope that the aircraft could still fly, but only then noted that the left hand tires had been shot out. I do not recall seeing any other passengers on the aircraft and presumed they had run towards the heavy bush on the near side of the runway. Those remaining unhurt and some local residents carried Mr. Katsorsis, Ms. Speiers and NBC newsman Stephen Sung, also seriously injured, into the bush at the side of the runway.

20. The major concern of the group was that the PT assailants might return to complete the assassinations. The wounded were therefore moved into the bush and those able to walk stayed near the bush. Mr. Bob Flick of the NBC news team who had taken shelter in a small corrugated steel building at the side of the runway with several Guyanese and was not injured by the gunfire directed towards him, ran down the runway to where the other light plane was. There were four members of

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the GDF at the disabled GDF Islander, three of whom had automatic weapons and the commanding officer, Lt. Joseph who had an automatic pistol. Lt Joseph later told me that none of his group had discharged their weapons because they could not tell the assailants from the victims as all were Americans and the incident was over so quickly.

21. Mr. Fernanes, the pilot of the Cessna, joined the group near the Otter, where he told me that one of his passengers had attempted to kill the other passengers with a revolver and had seriously wounded at least two. Mr. Dale Park, who had been a passenger on Mr. Fernandes’ Cessna, told me that the passengers consisted of Miss Monica Bagby, Mr. Vern Gosney, Mr. Larry Layton, himself and one other. He stated that as the Cessna was preparing to depart, Mr. Layton shot Miss Bagby and Mr. Gosney once each in the back. The door of the plane then was opened and Miss Bagby and Mr. Gosney ran out of the plane and were shot again once each by Mr. Layton, who then turned the gun on Mr. Park. Mr. Park stated that there was one further discharge of the weapon but that he was not injured and was able to take the weapon away from Mr. Layton after a struggle and attempt to discharge it at Mr. Layton, without result. Layton then is said to have disappeared temporarily. (One of the GDF soldiers stationed by the GDF aircraft under repair near the Cessna later told me that he thought Mr. Layton had left the area with the PT

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group.) Subsequently, however, Mr. Layton was identified by several members of the Park family and others mingling with the group of survivors at the side of the runway near the disabled Otter.

22. By the time I had taken possession of the revolver from Mr. Park and one round of ammunition which Mr. Park said had apparently failed to fire. Two Guyanese in civilian clothes asserting that they were associated with the Guyanese authorities had hold of Mr. Layton and said that they would escort him to jail. I heard Mr. Layton tell these individuals that he was an American citizen resident in Guyana, that he denied the crimes of which he had been accused and that he insisted upon his right to be brought to trial by the Guyanese legal process and that he demanded to see the area public prosecutor as soon as possible. Mr. Layton was taken away. At about this time the Cessna aircraft began to take off, apparently containing captain Spence from the GAC Otter and his co-pilot, and pilot Fernandes. As the aircraft began to take off I ran toward it to flag it down so as to take out some of the wounded. Captain Spence gestured to the rear of the aircraft, which I took to mean that there had been another appearance of the group from the PT and the survivors and I therefore once again took to the bush. I was later to learn that Captain Spence apparently was gesturing to the badly wounded Monica Bagby whom they had

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put on board.

23. Numerous Guyanese approached the survivors cautiously. We prevailed upon one individual with a Land Rover to request help from the clinic in Port Kaituma, pain killers at the very least, and hopefully means of transportation for the wounded to the clinic. The individual did return, stating that all residents of Port Kaituma had been ordered to stay indoors, that the practitioners were afraid to help the survivors to the center at Port Kaituma, which they felt, in any event, might be unsafe. The man did, however, deliver a package of pain killers.

24. It should be noted that before Captain Spence’s departure and while he was in radio contact with Guyanese authorities elsewhere, either in Matthews Ridge or Gerogetown [Georgetown], he assured me that assistance would be immediately on the way. This was at approximately 1630 hours which meant that there should have been time for an aircraft to reach Port Kaituma from Georgetown before night had it left immediately. With this assurance, the group assembled by the edge of the runway. Several individuals were missing- Mr. James Cobb, Mr. O’Neil, the Park children, Tracy and Brenda, and the Bogue children, Tina and Tommy. They had run deep into the bush and could not be located. I talked with the lieutenant in charge of the small detachment at the GDF plane at the head

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of the runway, requesting the cots of the four mean [man] detachment to be used as stretchers. The lieutenant agreed that the wounded could be brought to his four man unit’s tent but recommended that this be done after dark. In hopes that an aircraft might still arrive, the group remained close to the bush near the Otter with the wounded hidden in the bush until after 2000, when the wounded were carried down to the GDF tent where they were made as comfortable as possible. The wounded consisted of Ms. Speiers, Mr. Sung, Mr. Katsorsis, and Mr. Gosney, who had been located lying wounded in the bush by some Amerindians. Throughout it should be noted that several residents of the area immediately surrounding the airfield and particularly the clients of Jeff Sempel’s tavern were of great assistance to the group. They warned us of the possibility of attack from the far end of the runway, helped carry the wounded and helped search for those lost in the bush.

25. At this point the decision had to be made whether to attempt to keep the ambulatory members of the group together in one place to facilitate their departure should transportation arrive, or whether it would be safer to attempt to scatter them, either in the bush or amongst the houses of inhabitants living near the airport, if possible. I elected the former option and with the assurances of Mr. Sempel that his family would welcome the group, two persons were left to stay with

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the wounded and the rest of the group assembled in Mr. Sempel’s tavern about one block from the head of the runway. Mr. Sempel offered the use of his living quarters for the group which were above the tavern proper and where the group gratefully assembled. The normal Saturday night activities of the tavern continued below, in some measure serving as camouflage for the group.

26. About 2300 hours Assistant District Officer Thomas appeared at the tavern to state that he had just come out of the bush where he had taken cover when the shots began. He said he had been in touch with the authorities by radio from his office in Port Kaituma and that an aircraft would be sent in shortly to be guided by lighted oil pots alongside the runway. This tactic had apparently been used in the past by the PT when they had an urgent need for medical evacuations at night. Mr. Thomas and I returned to the airport to discuss with lt. Joseph of the four man detachment the placing of the oil lights and awaited the aircraft.

27. Mr. Thomas returned to his office. It became apparent that the aircraft would not come in that night. Mr. Bob Flick of NBC refused to leave the wounded and nursed them to the best of his ability throughout the night. I also stayed with the wounded to be on hand at the arrival of the first aircraft after instructing the group at the tavern that no one was to leave under any conditions unless Mr.

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Flick, myself, or a GOG official gave permission whether or not an aircraft was heard to land.

28. At approximately 0130 or 0200 in the morning a message came from Lt. Joseph that there was a radio telephone message for him from Matthews Ridge from his commanding officer. I accompanied him to the telephone where I was able to converse with Joseph’s commanding officer, Major Ronnie Johnson, and with Second Secretary Len Barrett of the U.S. Embassy, who had accompanied Major Johnson.

29. Major Johnson informed me that a company of troops, approximately 120 men, were being sent from Matthews Ridge to Port Kaituma by rail but that they had orders to dismount five miles before Port Kaituma and walk in. I expressed the hope to Major Johnson and the authorities in Port Kaituma that every effort be made to get a group of soldiers at the airport before dawn, as quickly as possible, to offset any effort by the PT to ambush rescue aircraft which it was hoped would arrive at dawn. The first troops arrived at about 0630, just after dawn, and were installed at the airport. By approximately one hour later the full company was on hand guarding the perimeters of the airport and six soldiers with automatic weapons at my request were assigned to the tavern to guard the Americans staying there. A paramedic arrived with the trooops and assisted the wounded.

30. The first rescue aircraft, a GDF Islander, arrived at

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approximately 0945-1000 in the morning. It arrived without any medical facilities, without stretchers, without blankets, without mattresses. The three most seriously wounded were laid on the bare floor of the cabin from which the seats had been removed, and two others, less seriously wounded and who could sit, were also put in the aircraft and sent to Georgetown. Other Guyanese aircraft were scheduled to arrive shortly thereafter.

31. At this time it became apparent that there was a serious problem with people who had fled People’s Temple, namely, the Park and Bogue families and Mr. Cordell. These were the individuals who had told me of the possible treachery of Mr. Layton and who stated that they felt themselves, as the first to leave Jonestown, the number one targets of any Jonestown assassins who might still be hunting for them. They stated that the main Jonestown security team had consisted of the basketball team currently in Georgetown. This made them very fearful of being sent to Georgetown. They claimed that they knew of plans in the event people tried to escape from Jonestown whereby teams of sharpshooters in Georgetown would attempt to pick them off as they landed at or departed from the Georgetown airport. They also maintained that the PT had other such sharpshooters at Trinidad and Caracas and they feared that there were infiltrators amongst the Jonestown group that had begun to straggle into Matthews Ridge. The

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second problem was the five children lost in the jungle. The families felt they could not leave Port Kaituma without the children or without some word as to their safety. I promised to attempt to transfer the group at Timehri airport to the American military medical aircraft which would be departing Georgetown shortly if it had room for the group. This message was conveyed by me through the aircraft commander and military officials for relay to Timehri. Secondly, I urged each family to leave one male member at Port Kaituma to take care of the children should they be found. I spoke directly with Police Superintendent Smith and the deputy GDF commander————–on the subject of the children in the bush and was assured by both that the Guyanese authorities would devote as much help to the search as possible.

32. At about this time Mr. Jim Cobb emerged from the bush, stating that he had been in the bush ever since he had run there the previous afternoon, he had not seen the other missing persons in the bush. Second Secretary Len Barrett of the embassy in Georgetown arrived by helicopter from Matthews Ridge to assist with the care of the Americans. In what was expected to be the last aircraft of the day for Georgetown, the members of the Park and Bogue families, Mr. Cordell and Mr. Cobb were flown to Georgetown. (One member of each family remained to search for the children) Subsequently an aircraft arrived to transport the bodies of

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Congressman Ryan and the four other dead Americans to Georgetown. Mr. Barrett and I accompanied this aircraft to Ogle field in Georgetown.

Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]

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Originally posted on October 29th, 2017.

Last modified on December 30th, 2020.
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