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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Jimmy Sabow was one of America's best. A full colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, he served bravely in Vietnam flying 221 combat missions in an A-6 Intruder.

At the time of his death, he was the Assistant Chief of Staff at El Toro, MCAS, California.

It is the nature of that death that is in dispute. The Marine Corps says it was "suicide" by shotgun.

After an exhaustive study of the NIS investigative file; death photos and autopsy records; ballistics test results and other medical files; court records and detailed statements by Col. Sabow's brother, Dr. J. D. Sabow, contends the real cause was MURDER.


Col. Sabow's father served in the South Pacific in World War II, so it was only natural his eldest son Jimmy would follow in his footsteps.

After graduation from Georgetown University with a degree in economics, Sabow joined the Marines and earned his commission at Quantico, Va.

He won his wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla. and by the mid-1960's was a combat pilot in Vietnam.

As the years went by, promotions came and by 1991, Jimmy Sabow - with his outstanding fitness reports and reputation for honesty and integrity - seemed destined for "stars."

Then, with the blast from a shotgun in Sabow's backyard, his life ended - not by his own hand - but after he was struck on the head from behind with a blunt object. He fell unconscious. The shotgun barrel was inserted into his mouth and trigger pulled.

His killer or killers thought that was it. Col. Jimmy Sabow, called "the straight arrow" by those who knew him, was dead and now he would talk no more of exposing drug trafficking at El Toro.

How wrong they were!

Whoever planned the "hit" did not count on the love and determination of Col. Sabow's kid brother, Dr. John Sabow, who would dedicate his life to finding out the real story of what happened on Jan. 22, 1991 - the day the colonel died.


Sabow usually arose between 0530 and 0600. His wife Sally wasn't feeling well and remained in bed and dozed. She was aware, however, of many telephone calls while she lay resting.

Around 0730, daughter Deirdre left for school. As she prepared lunch, she talked with her father who seemed cheerful and relaxed. She noticed her dad as having already showered and shaved.

Sally joined the colonel in the living room of their quarters at El Toro just after Deirdre departed for school. Sabow showed his wife the morning newspaper which contained an article about the base Chief of Staff, Col. Joseph Underwood, being relieved of his command. Underwood had called Sabow at 0700 and told him of the article. He also ominously stated Sabow "would be in the news" the very next day. When the colonel told Sally of Underwood's warning, she said it was absurd for Underwood had no way of knowing what would appear in the following day's newspaper.

Capt. Paul McBride, a legal officer assigned to represent the colonel - who was under investigation for alleged "misuse of government aircraft" - recalls three separate telephone conversations he had with Sabow that morning. The last one was made by McBride at 0810 and lasted ten minutes.

In a later conversation with Dr. Sabow and in a letter to Brig. Gen. W. Tom Adams, base commander, McBride described Sabow as being appropriately concerned about his situation but NOT "desperate." However, in a later investigation by the Marine Corps, the investigator appointed to re-evaluate the manner of death, Col. Pearcy, misquoted McBride as describing Sabow as being desperate. This obviously was done to justify the Marine Corps' contention Sabow's death was "self-inflicted," but it was a blatant misstatement of fact. Incredibly , Pearcy incriminated himself, for he attached McBride's letter as "evidence" which stated the exact opposite!

At 0830, Sally finished talking to Sue Bloomer, the wife of a retired general. She checked her time, for she wished to attend Mass at the Catholic church located a short distance off base. She explained to her husband since it was already 0830 she would miss most of the Mass but would go anyway and receive Holy Communion.

Just as she was opening the front door to leave, the phone rang and she stopped a moment to observe Col. Sabow answer the phone. He had been sitting in his leather easy-chair in front of the television which was approximately twelve feet from the front door.

"Col. Sabow . . . (pause) . . . Col Sabow . . . (pause) . . . This is Col. Sabow."
What was further said is unknown for just at that moment Sally closed the door behind her and left for Mass. All the other calls made to Sabow earlier that morning have been identified. Mysteriously, the one who placed this final call to Col. Sabow has never acknowledged making that final phone call. That call was made just minutes before Sabow died and consequently identification of the caller was of the utmost importance.

The facts speak for itself. The caller was involved in the murder. The caller apparently gave Sabow a message which caused him to go into his back yard and lock his two dogs in the garage. However, first he put the TV on MUTE which he often did if he intended to momentarily return.

"At that very moment, a meeting in Gen. Adam's office was in progress," Dr. John Sabow says. "Adams, in addition to the new Chief of Staff, Col. Williams, Col. Lucas, the chief legal officer and Capt. Betsy Sweat, information officer, were summoned by Adams to a meeting scheduled for 0800.

"Lucas stated that the meeting was to discuss the potential for bad publicity that could emerge from the newspaper article about Col. Underwood. However, since the article had only just appeared in the Orange County Register that morning, it's unlikely, if not impossible, for that to have been the reason for the gathering. Except for Gen. Adams, all the others lived off base and even if they were notified immediately after the newspaper delivery, there simply was insufficient time to gather them by 0800 hours.

"Lucas recalls being notified on Monday evening about the meeting but he can't recall by whom. Furthermore, since Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, it was a federal holiday and the base was for all practical purposes closed. It would have been highly unlikely for a "leak" of the Underwood article to have been made on Monday January 21, under these circumstances. Hence, it must be assumed that the meeting was called for other than the expressed purpose and probably by Gen. Adams himself. If so, a possible if not probable explanation was to establish an alibi.

"What is even more incriminating, is the communiqué that was sent from headquarters at El Toro to Marine Headquarters at the Pentagon (Henderson Hall). The message announced the death of Col. Sabow that morning at about 0900. However, the computer used to format and send the message, automatically dated and timed the formulation of the data or at least the time when the computer was initially accessed to start the text.

"However, it gave this information in zulu time rather than in P.S.T. The time shown was 220730z Jan91. Zulu or Greenwich time is another way of stating time at zero degrees longitude, hence, zulu. There is a difference between Pacific Standard time and "zulu" time of eight hours, so one subtracts eight hours from the zulu time to calculate when the message was started on the computer. THIS SHOWS THAT THE DATA WAS INITIALLY ENTERED AT 2330 HOURS, JAN. 21, THE NIGHT BEFORE COL. SABOW WAS KILLED! Or at the least, the computer was reversed to send the message and it was predetermined the message was to be from CG at El Toro, to CMC Washington (the Commanding General to the Commandant of the Marine Corps).

"It has been acknowledged that the colonel's death occurred between 0830 and 0900. During that time frame, Sally was attending Mass, Gen. Adams was at a meeting in his headquarters' office and Col. Underwood was at his home next door to the Sabow house. It is presumed that Col. Sabow, who had just been on the telephone, had gone into his back yard, put the dogs in the garage, and was intending to return to his living room to resume watching television. He never made it!"

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