Former Brigham Young University-Idaho professor, Bob Inama, was in his 20s and fresh off a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission, when the military drafted him to serve as an East German spy.
Betrayed by a double agent, Inama was arrested and suffered beatings for six months. Eventually, Soviet and American officials agreed to a prisoner exchange, freeing Inama. He spent a month in a hospital before returning to Utah to complete his education.
Inama never told a soul about his military service. The story didn’t come out until Inama spoke to a daughter about it while on a walk with her. The daughter later told a friend who contacted Shadow Mountain Publishing.
The company recently published that story in the book “The Slow March of Light” written by Heather B. Moore. The book came out shortly after Inama’s Aug. 9 death.
Inama’s story started in 1959 just as the Cold War was heating up. The military drafted Inama later sending him to Germany where his commanding officer, noting that Inama spoke German, said “We have something we want you to volunteer for,” Inama recalled in a YouTube video about his experience.
From there the officer sent Inama to the University of Berlin where he was assigned as an aid to a Professor Schmidt. The assignment also called for Inama to go into East Germany to take pictures of potential military targets. Schmidt also had permission to travel into East Germany.
Inama used a camera of sorts to take pictures of targets.
“The major gave me a pen. It had a recorder in it. It had a microfilm charge in it. I took a lot of microfilm pictures. I felt that could help my colleagues in West Berlin,” he said.
The military assignedInama three fake girlfriends living in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York respectively. Whenever he took a target site photo, he placed it in the letters and addressed the letters to one of the girlfriends. The address provided the coordinates of the military targets. U.S. Secret Service Agents later retrieved the letters from mailboxes.
Inama never worried about getting caught until he and Schmidt ran into a roadblock while heading to West Berlin.
There Russian guards blindfolded, handcuffed and ordered Inama into another car.
“I walked by Schmidt who said ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Dummkopf,” Inama recalled.
Guards took Inama to an East German prison, confining him to a basement cell.
Every day for about six months, a guard, who Inama named “Adolph,” took Inama back and forth to a room where guards interrogated and beat him.
“I congratulated the guy who’s doing the beating -‘Boy, you’re really good at this.’ It allowed for some fun,” Inama said in the YouTube video.
Adolph and Inama managed to communicate somewhat where Inama spoke about his religion. He explained to Adolph that he declined the mush given to him on Fast Sundays as Latter-day Saints skip two meals to donate to the poor.
Of course, Inama couldn’t donate money to the needy, but instead spent the day praying and singing church songs, said Diane Inama.
“When he fasted, that had a big influence on the guard,” she said.
Adolph once retrieved Bob Inama from his cell. While outside, Bob Inama noticed two other prisoners outside with him.
“I realized right then we’re probably going to be executed,” he said.
Bob Inama was third in line as he walked to the execution site. For some reason Adolph moved Bob Inama to the front of the line where guards tied his hands together and placed a hood over his head.
“I heard, ‘Ready, aim and fire.’ I didn’t feel a thing,’” he said. “I was not shot. I had no knowledge of why that didn’t take place.”
The other two prisoners had been shot and killed instead.
After about six months, the United States and Russia arranged for Bob Inama’s prisoner swap. After being freed, he turned back to give Adolph a hug.
“He said ‘I love you, my brother.’ He walked on never to see him again,” Diane Inama said.
Yet, 15 years later, Bob Inama heard from Adolph after receiving a letter from him while working at the former Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho).
The former guard wrote that he had never forgotten Bob Inama, and that Adolph had gone through the Switzerland Temple with his family.
“The letter was addressed to ‘Bob Inama.’ Adolph even put Bob’s rank on the envelope. He didn’t know where to send it, so he sent it to the headquarters of the church,” Diane Inama said.
Sadly, Adolph’s letter washed away during the Teton Dam flood in 1976. Two years later, the Inamas married, and today have five children and 12 grandchildren.
Bob Inama said he didn’t regret his military service.
“If I knew the end results as I do now, I’d do it again. I really would,” he said in the YouTube video.
For more information on Inama’s book visit https://www.amazon.com/Slow-March-Light-Heather-Moore/.