Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Camp Van Dorn: Bodies of Evidence

Written by: Darren Dedo
Case Filed: 08/22/01 - Centreville, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner
Part 3 of 4

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"They rebelled and the answer from the Army was let's shoot them, and they did at random. white MP's would knock you off," says 364th Veteran and Regimental Headquarters Clerk Malcolm LaPlace.

"They helped pack 50 of those soldiers in ice in a boxcar," adds Mister X.
Over a thousand black soldiers shot and killed at Camp Van Dorn in Centreville, Mississippi: truth or fiction?

"Throughout all of the discussions we had, no one has ever given us one name of the 1,227 individuals that were alleged to have perished in this horrible event." says Former Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense William E. Leftwich, III.


What if the number of soldiers killed was far less than 1,000 - possibly 25 to 50 men? Could the military hide this.

"I believe there was massive cover-up by the United States Army and, as I said before, it continues to this day." Author Carroll Case wrote in his book "The Slaughter" that 1,227 black soldiers were shot and buried near the old camp. He believes the bodies of the men are still where Camp Van Dorn used to be.

"You've got networks of different roads that come together. Right behind that - I'm talking about less than a quarter mile from here is where that lake is."

To find out if this was true, NEWSCHANNEL 12 contacted the property owner, who built the lake. Henry Giles showed us pictures of his lake. Giles says he's heard of the legend, but had never heard of any bodies being buried under their lake.

"First, you're think about is you know, we made the lake, if you think. We dug out some of the lake, we would have seen skulls or bones, or some sort of relics from what had happened, if it did happen."

Our source, Mister X, says the MP's shot and killed the black soldiers and then a secret Army unit shipped them in train boxcars northward, "They told the people that it was a training accident they got killed in...they would be getting $10,000 check for insurance."

LaPlace remembers talking with his Army buddies about dead soldiers on box cars, "Loaded aboard a box car, covered with ice and shipped into the unknown, that story was going around for a very long time. I cannot say that I know for a fact that it happened, but ask me if if believe it happened: yes, I do."

"I don't know what Mr. LaPlace is talking about," says Lt. Col. Charles Graul. "If he has any new information we welcome him to contact the Army or any other official body to bring this information in the proper channels."

Four soldiers died while at Camp Van Dorn. The Army admits this and they can't say how these men died. All reports say that Private William Walker was shot and killed by the Wilkinson County Sheriff on May 30, 1943. Some believe his death sparked a mutiny by his fellow black soldiers. The Army accounted for the whereabouts of all the men of the 364th, except 20 of them. Although, the Pentagon told NEWSCHANNEL 12 that the 20 are not missing - the dates they left the military are not known. They say these men are not dead, because they were located by pay records and VA bills.

The Army traced the 364th by compiling a roster from May to December, 1943. They also used documentation from the National Archives, from 1941 to 1945.
According to Mister X, the shootings of the black soldiers isn't fantasy. He says it happened at a bend on the railroad tracks. After reviewing maps, we set out to find the spot where the armed men of the 364th would have marched towards Centreville.

Both sides of the banks supposedly contained white MP's with two 30-caliber machine guns. At the drop of their leader's hand, they opened fire, killing many of the men.

The debate over Camp Van Dorn is still a hot topic in Washington. Next time, we'll find out what politicians and the NAACP are doing to help solve the mystery of Camp Van Dorn.

Additional Resources:



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"Betty" Full Video Interview

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Malcolm LaPlace Full Video Interview

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"Mister X" Full Video Interview

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Lt. Col. Charles Graul: Full Video Interview

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Author Carroll Case: Full Video Interview

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Ron Caulfield: Full Video Interview

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Paige Cothren: Full Video Interview
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Dr. Lucius Lampton: Full Video Interview

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Edythe Lensing: Full Video Interview

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Theodore Bullock: Full Video Interview


NEW Congressman Bennie Thompson Letter

2 comments:

  1. It would seem fairly simple to put this whole incident to bed. Take the Army records from spring 1943 and track down the survivors and famiy members. If they were indeed shipped to another location, Alaska is what I have heard, it should be easy to track them from Mississippi to Alaska. Has anyone been able to locate any of the soldiers frm the base at that time or any of their surviving family members?

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  2. Anonymous, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. If you watch all of our investigations, I can assure you - as the one who did most of our research - what seemed an urban legend had some discrepancies. We research countless documents and interviewed as many people as we could locate with information on Camp Van Dorn. While the Army asserted it had conducted full investigations and found no supportive evidence of an incident at Camp Van Dorn, our interviews with Malcolm LaPlace, Betty, and Mr. X shed some curious results.

    This Unexplained case remains open...

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