The father of a U.S. Army officer shot to death by a Soviet guard in East Germany in 1985 says it was "very gross" of the Pentagon to fail to tell the family that Moscow had apologized.

The Soviet Union's highest-ranking military official apologized last month during the Moscow summit for the shooting death of Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson Jr., the Pentagon announced Tuesday.Nicholson's parents said it was the first they had heard about the apology. Nicholson's mother, Jean Nicholson, said she was pleased to hear an apology had been made, but "we've had no word from the government at all."

"I never thought this would happen," she said of the apology.

Nicholson's father, Arthur Sr., said he called his son's widow in Washington, and she said she hadn't heard of the apology.

"I'm somewhat distressed that nobody made any effort to notify us," he said. "I think this is very gross."

Nicholson said he did not want to comment on the apology itself until he heard its contents.

The apology was extended by Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov to Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci at a private meeting May 31, said Dan Howard, the Pentagon's chief spokesman.

Yazov offered no new details or explanation for the March 24, 1985, shooting, nor did he respond to previous U.S. demands for financial compensation to Nicholson's family, Howard said.

Nonetheless, "we feel we have received the appropriate apology from the Soviets," the spokesman said.