Monday, June 27, 2005
3 U.S. airmen here to explain aid to loyalists. Acosta, Berry, Schneider fly to capital with their attorney. Back from the broken harvests of the bloody Spanish war, the famed triumvir of American air fighters ? Bert Acosta, Gordon Berry and Eddie Schneider ? flew into Washington Airport yesterday all set to do some tall explaining to the Federal Government. Apparently none the worse for the wear and tear of the bitter civil conflict, now in its sixth month, the trio who quit because "it would be suicide to continue" and because their actions ?might not be in tune with the spirit of neutrality", talked freely with newsmen about the reasons that motivated their enlistment. "I was broke, hungry, jobless," 25-year-old Schneider, who is married and has a family in New York, said. "Yet despite the fact that all three of us are old-time aviators who did our part for the development of the industry were left out in the cold in the Administration?s program of job making. Can you blame us for accepting the lucrative Spanish offer?" While other airmen ? British and French ? were afforded a two-week courtesy for training, American fliers were just shown to loyalist hangars, given a plane and and ordered to do their stuff. "We were flying old crates," Acosta said, ?while other nationalists were given modern ships. But for the protection afforded us by Soviet pursuit planes we would not be alive now to tell you this tale." All three had the highest praise for the Russian flyers and nothing but scorn for the Moors. "They are the traditional enemies of the Spaniard," Berry said. "Spain is not fighting a civil war but an invasion.? Denying news reports that they dropped bombs over Burgos as a Christmas Day greeting for the fascist rebel junta, the fliers said that they spent the holidays in Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous state of Barcelona. Once they stared death in the face. That was in the Catalan capitol when all unwittingly they tuned in on Rome in a restaurant radio and had a band blare forth with the Fascist anthem. "It was a close call." The youthful Schneider said, "we almost got shot as agents provocateur." Unpaid, and hearing of repercussions back home from the British Ambassador in Bilboa, the trio made up their minds to quit the conflict for good. "This was a mess," Schneider explained, "and there was always that never-ending jockeying for the power among the factions to contend with, it got to the point where we did not know who we were fighting and why, and you can say that we are damn glad to be back." The three fliers were accompanied here by their attorney, Colonel Lewis Landes, of New York, an officer in the Reserve Corps. They came here voluntarily to see various Government officials, but the State Department not on their calling list. In the afternoon they had lunch at the Army and Navy Club and discussed modern fighting methods with Colonel Richards. The latter was interested in the war value of pursuit ships and questioned the trio on the observations. Tomorrow all three have an appointment with Senator Ashurst on neutrality legislation. They also will be questioned by the Justice and Commerce departments, but they did not disclose the nature of the conferences. Regarding the pay owed them by the Spanish Government, Landes disclosed that all three received "about $500 apiece" Monday from "the Spanish counsel" in New York. He did not disclose the latter?s identity. Meanwhile, representative McCormack (Democrat), of Massachusetts, was requesting of Secretary of State Cordell Hull a State Department inquiry into whether a Spanish consul in New York had paid American aviators to serve in the Spanish civil war. In a letter he demanded a withdrawal of the counsel?s credentials if there had been any violation of the United States or international law. McCormack told newsmen that a special House investigating committee, of which he is chairman, had revealed that "certain foreign governments" had no compunction about using their diplomatic representatives to this country to further their plans and "violate international laws."