Serial 55

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 55 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE03848_d.html.]

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GEORGE 03848 220209Z
ACTION ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SSO-00 FBIE-00 CIAE-00 PA-01 SCS-06 MCT-02 CA-01 INR-10 INRE-00 SY-05 SYE-00 USSS-00 H-01 AID-05 SS-15 NSCE-00 CCO-00 OC-06 JUSE-00 NSAE-00 ICAE-00 CG-00 L-03 DOTE-00 AS-02 PM-05 /078 W
——————001779 220218Z /75

O 220045Z NOV 78 ZFF-6
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS CZ IMMEDIATE
USCINCRED MAC DILL AFB FLA IMMEDIATE
CINCMAC SCOTT AFB ILL IMMEDIATE
JSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
CSAF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3848
WHITE HOUSE WASHDC/SITROOM IMMEDIATE
DIRNSA FT GEORGE G MEADE MD IMMEDIATE
21 AF OC MCGUIRE AFB NJ IMMEDITE
AF MPC RANDOLPH AFB TX/MPCCM IMMEDIATE
USCINCARRED FT MCPHERSON GA IMMEDIATE
436 MAW DOVER AFB DE/SVM/ IMMEDIATE
436 ABG DOVERAFB DE/SVM/ IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 3848
COMUSJTF SOUTH (GUYANA OPERATION) SENDS
REF: A. JCS 210221Z NOV 78

1. (U) Situation, initial elements of USJTF [U.S. Joint Task Force] south arrived Timehri airport, Guyana at 211130Z Nov 78, and were met by representatives of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) and Amemb [American Embassy] Georgetown, Guyana. Remainder of USSOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] elements have arrived and the support base at Timehri airport has been established, facilitated by representatives of Amembassy

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GEORGE 03848 220209Z

Georgetown.

2. (C) Intelligence. Current situation in Jonestown is stable. GDF took control of Jonestown evening of 19 Nov with no opposition. GDF has confirmed 405 dead, including James Jones, of voluntarily ingested potassium cyanide laced Kool-aid. Jones had also been shot as had a very few of the 405 dead. It is probably that all or most of Jones’ hard core followers are dead, thus reducing the potential threat to USJTF recovery operations. Returning survivors thus far have not been hostile. Some weapons, however, are believed unaccounted for; as a result, the threat of random sniper attacks cannot be discounted. UTM coordinates of Jonestown are estimated as 21NSJ762492. These coordinates will be updated when location verified. Weather in Jonestown are is hot and humid, with a high incidence of tropical rain showers; thus hampering recovery operations.

3. (C) Evaluation of significant factors.

A. GDF representatives have been most cordial and helpful. Their cooperation and assistance have already proven invaluable and should facilitate recovery operations.
B. HF voice net hs been established by USAF CCT personnel. USA communications are being established at this time.
C. No significant logistics problems are foreseen unless delays are encountered in the arrival of Conos augmentation personnel and equipment scheduled in tonight and early tomorrow.
D. Personnel of USJTF South presently totals 17 officers and 58 enlisted.

4. (U) Operations summary. The commander USJTF met with the American Ambassador today to discuss the recovery operation. One USJTF member overflew the operational area aboard a local

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GEORGE 03848 220209Z

Cessna and sssessed the airfields at Matthews Ridge and Port Kaituma. He also overflew Jonestown. Remainder of day has been utilized in conducting the organizaton planning and coordination required to commence recovery operations in the morning.

5. (c) Commanders plans. At 220430Z Nov 78 movement to the forward area will begin. Utilizing organic fixed wing and GDF fixed and rotary wing assests, a refule point will be established at Matthews Ridge airfield and a forward base will be established at Jonestown. Priority of tasks will be establishment of refule point, movement of graves registration/ body recovery element to Jonestown, initiation of body i.d./ preparation for movement, establishment of forward cp [camp] at Jonestown. CH53 assets will be employed as soon as avaialble for transhipment of bodies from Jonestown to Georgetown.

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

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Originally posted on May 16th, 2018.

Last modified on June 24th, 2022.
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