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Marine Spying Suspect a 1985 Summit Guard

January 11, 1987|OSWALD JOHNSTON and MICHAEL WINES | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The Marine sergeant being held on suspicion of spying for the Soviets while a guard at the U.S. embassies in Moscow and Vienna also served as a security guard at the U.S.-Soviet summit at Geneva in November, 1985, family members said Saturday.

Sgt. Clayton J. Lonetree, 25, is being held in pretrial detention at Quantico, Va., after allegedly acknowledging to U.S. officials in Vienna late last month his "involvement" with a female KGB agent in what sources have told The Times was "a major KGB operation."

Capt. Linda Western, a Marine information officer, said Saturday that a military magistrate at Quantico ordered last week that Lonetree be held for a formal hearing at which a military judge will decide whether the case should be presented to a court-martial or dismissed.

Lonetree's 23-year-old brother, Craig, a former Marine who once was stationed with Clayton at Camp Pendleton, Calif., described him as a "squared-away Marine" who had volunteered for the elite Marine guard duty, for which special training and security clearances are required.

"No one (fouls up) to get into embassy duty," Craig Lonetree said Saturday from St. Paul, Minn., where the family now lives. "You have to have a lot of security clearances, and he got them. You have to be special."

Craig Lonetree described himself as "shocked" at the report of his brother's detention and said: "The whole family's that way. My father's not talking to anybody."

In November, 1985, however, when Clayton Lonetree was detailed from his duty at the Moscow Embassy to serve as a site guard at the Geneva summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, his father, Spencer Lonetree, granted an interview to the St. Paul Pioneer Press in which he set forth some of the hopes and aspirations of a family in which the Marine tradition was strong.

Spencer Lonetree, a Winnebago Indian who runs a health supply company and is active in Indian community affairs in St. Paul, told the paper that his son planned to attend Georgetown University after winding up his second tour of Marine duty, and planned to attend law school thereafter.

'Two Important Things'

"I told the boys there were only two important things in life," he told the paper. "Education and hard work."

In family lore, the name Lonetree was adopted several generations back when Spencer Lonetree's great-great-grandfather, an orphan, was likened by a Winnebago chief to a solitary white oak sapling in a meadow. Spencer Lonetree told the Pioneer Press that the tree still stands in Vesper, Wis., the small prairie town where he was born.

Clayton Lonetree is listed in Marine records as a native of Chicago, and the Pioneer Press said he and his brother lived for a time in an orphanage in New Mexico after his parents were divorced. The two boys were returned to their father when Clayton was 12 and were thereafter reared by him in St. Paul.

Two of Clayton's uncles also were Marines and saw combat in Vietnam. Clayton, a backup quarterback at St. Paul's Johnson High School, first entered the corps in 1980 and reported back home that the tough boot camp training course was "a snap," the Pioneer Press reported.

Later, on re-enlistment in 1984, Lonetree volunteered for the elite Marine Security Guard School, a rigorous six-week course designed to turn out what is regarded in Marine lore as "the best of the finest."

Intensive Course

The 1,250-man Marine Security Guard Battalion, based at Quantico, has always been regarded as a plush foreign billet, but in the age of international terrorism often aimed at U.S. embassies abroad, the assignment is far from ceremonial. The training includes an intensive course in anti-terror techniques, espionage and counterintelligence.

Lonetree was posted to Moscow in September, 1984, dispatched to Geneva in November, 1985, then reassigned to Vienna last March. Sources told The Times on Friday that Lonetree had access to "extremely sensitive" material and to keys for embassy safes in which classified materials were kept.

Papers were discovered to have been removed from at least one safe in one embassy, sources said Friday, but it was unclear whether the alleged espionage took place in both embassies.

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