The Book of Honor

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Authors: Ted Gup
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releasing them. It might also endanger their lives. Behind the scenes, the State Department persuaded Britain and eight other nations to inquire about the well-being of Redmond and other prisoners and to work for their release.
    On October 19, 1951, the secret list of Americans held by the Chinese—which included Redmond’s name—was provided by Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk to U.S. Senator William Knowland at the senator’s request. Knowland had pledged that the list would remain confidential. But on December 8 Knowland released the names to the press and issued a blistering denunciation of the Chinese. The next day Redmond’s name surfaced publicly for the first time in front pages around the nation.
    And that was how Ruth Redmond first discovered that her son had been imprisoned, or even executed. Given what she knew of her son’s covert employment with the government, she was horrified that no one from the intelligence service had informed her of her son’s situation. She might have been even more disturbed if she had known that by then her son had been largely forgotten by those in the recently reorganized clandestine service.
    On December 18, 1951, she penned a letter addressed simply “State Department, Washington D.C.” It read: “Dear Sirs, I have a son in China for the last few years. I naturally have been worried about him continually but was shocked beyond words to read in the newspapers that he has been in prison in Shanghai since April 26, 1951. This is the first news of any kind I have had of him. For obvious reasons he was listed as a businessman. After three years on the battlefield in Europe and now this—is there any hope for my only son? Is it possible to find out if he is well, if he is hungry, if he is mistreated. Can we write to him, can he receive any packages from us and is
anything being done to secure
his release?
Thank you for any information you may have. I am sincerely, Mrs. Ruth Redmond. My son’s name, Hugh Francis Redmond.”
    There can be little doubt that Hugh Redmond understood the risks of his assignment. On July 24, 1946, just nine months after he had left the army, he joined a top secret intelligence organization within the War Department. Like many highly decorated veterans of World War II, he was eager to continue his service to country, but he had suffered grave wounds in the war. It was doubtful that he would have been eligible for active military duty. And so, like many other casualties of war, he sought out the next closest thing—the clandestine service. In those early days the corridors of the clandestine service had more than their share of men with limps, eye patches, and other tokens of war.
    Redmond had joined the Strategic Services Unit, the SSU. After President Truman ordered the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to be dismembered as of October 1, 1945, critical elements of that organization, particularly the Secret Intelligence and Counter-Espionage branches, were assigned to the SSU. The unit was initially under Colonel John Magruder, who had been Wild Bill Donovan’s deputy director of intelligence at the OSS. SSU’s role was to maintain networks of foreign agents, safe houses, and other vital elements of the intelligence apparatus in both Europe and the Far East. What remained from the glory years of the OSS was little more than a skeletal secret service. SSU would later be folded into the Central Intelligence Group, or CIG (created on January 22, 1946), and would finally become part of the Central Intelligence Agency when it was created in 1947.
    With each change in name and function, the intelligence corps and its mission became more muddied, the bureaucracy more mired in paperwork and interservice rivalries. By the time of Redmond’s arrest in April 1951, it had undergone so many transformations that Hugh Francis Redmond had been all but forgotten. His supervisors had been shuffled about from

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