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 Marine Corps Colonel’s murder reported as a suicide, but forensic evidence supports murder and a government cover-up. 

(Irvine, CA) – Twenty years ago this month (January 22, 1991), Colonel James Sabow, USMC, answered the telephone in his quarters at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California.  “Hello, Colonel Sabow.  This is Colonel Sabow.”  

Colonel James Sabow, USMC

These were the last words that Sally Sabow heard her husband speak as she closed the front door of their home to attend an early morning weekday Mass in Santa Ana. 

When she returned from church, she found the T.V. on mute, their dog in the garage and her husband dead on the patio in the backyard from what looked to be a self-inflected gunshot wound to the head. 

The Marine Corps Inspector General flew into El Toro in January 1991, looking for answers to reports of unmarked civilian aircraft using the airfield.

 Immediately upon arriving at El Toro, the IG went to Bldg. 53 and demanded a copy of the data processing file on the maintenance (refueling, etc.) of these aircraft.  The file had been purged. 

Both Colonel Joseph Underwood, Chief of Staff, and Colonel Sabow, Assistant Chief of Staff, were relieved of their duties by Brigadier General Tom Adams, Commanding General, MCAS El Toro, for some minor infraction of the rules and pressured to retire from the Marines. 

Colonel Sabow refused to go quietly.  He told senior Marine officers that he was not aware of the use of civilian aircraft to transport drugs into the U.S., but he would disclose all he knew about the unmarked civilian C-130s at courts martial.

The unmarked C-130′s unloaded their drug cargo in the Marine Wing Support Group 37 area in the Southwest quadrant of the base in the early morning hours. 

I know the area well. As a young Marine, I worked in one of the two huge maintenance hangars in MWSG-37.  Even after 40 years, I still remember the distinctive sound of the C-130 turboprops keeping me awake in the early morning hours on duty watch in the hangar. 

The killers who murdered the Colonel in his quarters at MCAS El Toro have not been brought to justice. 

The Naval Investigative Service (NIS) ruled his death a suicide the same day of his death.  The following day the Orange County civilian coroner’s death certificate was suicide, despite overwhelming evidence of foul play. 

The forensic evidence supports that Colonel Sabow was clubbed to death before a shotgun was put into his mouth and fired by his killers, according to many independent experts said Dr. David Sabow, his younger brother and a retired neurologist.   

No suicide note was left. His finger prints were not on the shogun or spent shell casing.  Blood filled one lung. A skull fracture behind the right ear. However, a shotgun blast in the mouth destroys the brain stem and the ability to breath.  

According to independent forensic experts, the autopsy results, skull x-rays and crime scene evidence shows that the Colonel’s death was sudden but not instantaneous. These non-government experts report that the initial trauma was a fatal blow to the back of the head causing a depressed skull fracture behind the right ear. The blow to the head was done by one or more persons. As the Colonel’s body lay on the ground, a 12 gauge shotgun was placed in his mouth and fired by the killers. 

For twenty years, Dr. David Sabow, his younger brother, has pursued an independent investigation of his brother’s death. There have been no indictments or interests from any U.S. Attorney. 

According to Dr. Sabow’s investigations, three men dressed in civilian clothes walked onto the crime scene, got into an argument with the NIS agent in charge, flashed some credentials, and ordered everyone away from the crime scene, literally across the street.  Unknown to them, one of the NIS agents remained behind, hidden from view and watched as these men  “cleaned-up the murder scene,” including removing a blunt object from the grass.  

The official NIS report makes no mention of this encounter.   

Were the killers part of an anti-terrorism team of psychopaths who were ordered to kill Colonel Sabow, a decorated Marine Corps Vietnam fighter pilot with 221 combat missions, to prevent him from disclosing the truth about flights of deadly cargo of drugs into El Toro? 

Large shipments of cocaine into the U.S. fueled the crack epidemic in the 80s and 90s.  The black community in major urban centers like Los Angeles, New York and Philly suffered greatly from addition to crack.      

If there’s a fair hearing of the evidence and a reversal of the Orange County coroner’s death certificate to homicide, look for indictments by the U.S. Attorney.  There’s no statute of limitation on murder.    

If this cold case gets to a Federal grand jury, the killers can expect to be indicted, tried and convicted of murder in short order. Those who ordered the killing won’t escape either.  This could be a very long list.  You don’t have to pull the trigger to be charged and convicted of murder.  

The following was written by Tim King and Luke Easter, Marine veterans and expresses, the feelings that many Marines have about the murder of Colonel Sabow.    

An Ode to Colonel James Sabow, USMC

Murder is without a doubt a very extreme, coldhearted, cowardly deed,
So, it usually deals with jealously, selfishness, immorality and/or greed,
Here’s a death planned by criminal masterminds of the highest degree,
That of Colonel James Sabow, “USMC.”

General David Shuter stated at his eulogy a man, “without compromise,”
Oh no doubt it made the good colonel expendable in the enemy’s eyes,
However, what makes this chilling assignation is that stunning surprise,
“Straightest of Straight Arrows, ” was claimed to have committed suicide.

Forensic evidence supports murder of this brave officer in the year 1991,
Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, Ca., when an investigation was done,
OK, but done by whom because solid clues point to a suspicious demise,
Done in sunny California, autopsy’s tough with sunglasses over your eyes.

Shootings have their own distinct characteristics & this one is not immune,
Type of weapon, make of the caliber, time of day, location, January or June,
Knowing a shotgun that caused the death leaked GSR yet none was found,
On the colonel’s hands or clothes, the medical examiner is Bozo the Clown?

Really? There is proof of cocaine being smuggled on former military ships?
Support the Nicaragua Contra-War? You know what’s said about loose lips,
Orange County Coroner ruled suicide before an investigation was complete,
A chilly January 22 in his quarters on a Marine Corps base, nice and neat.

Many subsequent independent experts have concluded, assured foul play,
The U.S. Navy & DOD continue to stand firm on, No! ” it didn’t occur that way,
Dr. David Sabow, a South Dakota neurologist has carried this fight 20 years,
Not quite but it will be for he has no thought of quitting to remove the smear.

And restore the good colonel’s honor rightly deserved & patriotically earned,
Dollars in legal fees, private investigators, own time, energy, truth to be learned,
Ha, no matter that our own government vehemently resists him at every turn,
Eagles on a highly decorated Marine’s lapel will not allow him to crash & burn.

This brother-friend of the hero is now in failing health but he does not care,
Amidst odds of high improbability he continues fighting from his wheelchair,
If only Cain had loved Able like that, there would not be cause for this write,
The purest form of brotherly love ignores their needs continuing to sacrifice.

Hard to imagine weapons-& drug-smuggling activities at a U.S. military base,
But not hard to imagine the calculated demise of a hero officer to save face,
Many glowing “fitness reports” even by general’s during his almost 30 years,
221 combat missions,15 Air Medals, Bronze Star with Combat “V” and no fear.

The biggest question, why in the hell would this proud father of two take his life?
Leave without rhyme, reason and comforting answers to Sally his loving wife,
James never turned down an assignment, Ooh-Rah Brave Colonel, Semper-If,
For the pride and decency of your country and morals, Sabow you had to die.

How many crooked hands high above yours were immersed in the illegal pie,
Could be alive today officer, “I know, I know, but Jim, it would only be one lie,”
Say that again, “one lie is all it takes to destroy 29+ years of hard earned work,”
“Yeah that’s true however, it was only you and your family who have been hurt.”

Personally, I’m surprised at the incompetence & excuses by the NCIS of the Navy,
Obviously they only do good police work with Mark Harmon @ 8 P.M., on my TV,
A battle only temporarily lost because the war of Armageddon will soon be done,
Besides, who has the right to question the Father why He called home His son.

Rest assured beyond are deepest thought the Creator has many, many reasons,
Some are here only to assist heaven’s kingdom growth, in very limited seasons,
Although there is an abundance of earthly leaders we still only have 1 real King,
I heard God say, ‘Colonel, it’s just for you to pilot, My fastest bolt of lightning.’


by Luke Easter & Tim King


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as’s Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation’s only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: [email protected]


Luke Easter is a poet who writes about things that are very close to the heart of Another former U.S. Marine, Luke heals the world with an approach that reaches people on a different level, one known for centuries, yet too often forgotten in the one we live in.

We live in a world of social & economic injustice. The main reason for founding America in the first place was to relieve the oppression of the King of England. Patrick Henry said it best, “give me liberty or give me death.” And yet, all too often death seems to be the only way out. Why is there such a high suicide rate especially among teens, in the land of the free & the home of the brave? What makes headlines? Good news? Ha! More depressing stories than anything else. I feel poetry takes an edge off the hurt of bad news while still delivering it but in a, “glitzy” sort of way. Giving a different perspective. Kind of like slap in the face as opposed to a knife in the back. At least with the slap you’ll live to see another day and you will know whom it’s from. I wasn’t here for the beginning of the world but at 59, I just might be here for the end.

Even though it’s still a knife, rhyme poetry helps to dull the blade. And that’s my job. You can write to Luke Easter at: [email protected]

View the original article at Veterans Today

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