Orange County businessman Edgar Dale “Eddie” Allen tells many exciting stories of his wartime heroism, but the best one goes like this: it's late 1963, and the U.S. military is gearing up for a major land war in Asia. Air Force Captain Eddie Allen, on loan to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is flying a U-2 spy plane over the jungles of Laos with a crew of three. Their mission: to find the spot that will serve as a key radar beacon for the future bombing of Hanoi. Then disaster strikes. The plane is shot down; only Eddie (who suffered severe smoke inhalation) and one other crewman survive the fiery crash. While fleeing Viet Cong guerrillas, Eddie runs through a river and cuts his foot on a piece of coral. Unable to continue, he is captured, marched to a POW camp and tortured mercilessly for months. He is kept in a tiger cage partially submerged in water; he fends off rats; withstands bamboo shoved under his fingernails; and offers nothing but his name, rank and serial number in relentless interrogations. But Eddie has friends in high places: Henry Kissinger enters into secret talks with the Viet Cong, who agree to release Eddie in exchange for $100,000 in gold bullion. A CIA helicopter arrives at the camp and ferries Eddie—every bone broken—back to Bangkok and then to Hawaii, where he is rewarded for his service with a secret promotion to the rank of colonel.
Careful readers will note several problems with Eddie's story, however. The U-2 carried just one crew member. According to the CIA, it was never used over Southeast Asia. There is no coral in landlocked Laos.
Jo Ellen Allen
Photo by Jack Gould
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.