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News > Airman missing from Vietnam War identified
Airman missing from Vietnam War identified

Posted 4/6/2012   Updated 4/6/2012 Email story   Print story


by Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

4/6/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Department of Defense Prisoners of War/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Allen J. Avery of Arlington, Mass., will be buried April 6 at Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 6, 1972, six airmen were flying a combat search and rescue mission in their HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter over Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam when they were hit by enemy ground fire and crashed.

In 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam turned over remains they attributed to an American serviceman; however, the name provided by the SRV did not match anyone lost or missing from the Vietnam War. The remains were held by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command pending improved technology to facilitate a later identification.

From 1989 to 1992, Joint U.S./SRV field investigations, led by JPAC, found evidence leading to an aircraft crash site as well as two reported burial sites. Team members recovered human remains and personal effects as well as aircraft debris. As a result, the crew was accounted-for in 1997 and buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery. Three airmen were also individually identified at that time.

In the mid-2000s, JPAC's laboratory's improved scientific capability enabled them to match the 1988 remains to the correct loss. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory tested these remains against all servicemen who were MIA from the Vietnam War with negative results. Later, AFDIL expanded its search to make comparisons with previously-identified individuals. In 2010, as a result of mitochondrial DNA testing, the remains were matched with four of the six airmen from the 1972 crash, including Avery.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit DPMO or call 703-699-1169.

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