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Vietnam War Aircrew
United States Air Force
From a contemporary press reports:

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1098-04
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 02, 2004
Media Contact: (703)697-5131
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MIAs Identified from The Vietnam War

Six servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery Friday with full military honors.

They are Air Force Colonel Theodore E. Kryszak of Buffalo, New York; Air Force Colonel Harding E. Smith of Los Gatos, California; Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Russell D. Martin of Bloomfield, Iowa; Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Luther L. Rose of Howe, Texas, and Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Ervin Warren, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On June 23, 1966, the crew was aboard an AC-47 “Spooky” gunship flying a nighttime armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos.  At about 9:25 p.m., the aircraft radioed, “we have a hot fire,” and another radio transmission was heard to order “bail out.”  Witnesses reported the aircraft was on fire, then crashed into a heavily wooded area 30 miles northeast of Tchepone, in Khannouan Province, Laos.  No parachutes from the crew were observed and no emergency beepers were heard.  An aerial search of the site found no evidence of survivors.

In cooperation with the Lao government, a joint team of U.S. and Lao specialists traveled to a suspected crash site in Khammouan Province in October 1994 where a villager took them to an area where personal effects, aircraft wreckage, crew-related materials and a crew member’s identification tag were found.

In May-June 1995, a joint U.S.-Lao team excavated the site where they recovered human remains as well as identification media of other aircrew members. The U.S. recovery team members were from the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI). CILHI scientists applied a wide array of forensic techniques to the recovered remains, including comparisons of dental charts and x-rays, as well as the use of mitochondrial DNA sequencing.

The DNA sequencing was done by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, whose results aided the CILHI scientists in identifying the remains. More than 88,000 Americans are missing in action from all conflicts.  Of these, 1,849 are from the Vietnam War. The CILHI is now part of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.


November 02, 2004

Vietnam-era remains identified, will be buried in Arlington
By Bryant Jordan, Times staff writer

Remains of an Air Force crew that died together in Laos during the Vietnam War will be buried together Friday, November 5, 2004, with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, following their recovery and positive identification. In the case of one crewmember, however, the Arlington ceremony will mark the third burial of his remains since they were recovered about eight years ago in Laos.

The remains of Chief Master Sergeant Luther L. Rose of Howe, Texas, already were buried with full military honors in early August, in a ceremony attended by his mother and a daughter from his first marriage. But the remains were exhumed and reburied in Louisiana in September after his second wife legally won the right to decide their final resting place.

Larry Greer, a spokesman for the Pentagon POW/MIA office in Washington, D.C., said November 2, 2004, that the Arlington burial will be of remains that could not positively be linked to any particular crewmember. They will be buried together in a single casket, he said.

Rose died in the June 23, 1966, crash of an AC-47 “Spooky” gunship that also killed Colonel Theodore E. Kryszak of Buffalo, New York; Colonel Harding E. Smith of Los Gatos, California; Lieutenant Colonel Russell D. Martin of Bloomfield, Iowa; and Chief Master Sergeant Ervin Warren, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to a November 2, 2004, Defense Department press release.

In the case of Rose, his identifiable remains initially were turned over to the daughter from his first marriage, who had them buried at his hometown in Sherman, Texas. But when his widow — Beverley Rose of Elm Grove, Louisiana — read in the newspaper about the burial, she succeeded in having the remains exhumed and reburied at a cemetery near Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, according to an August 12, 2004, report in the Dallas Morning News.

The crash into a heavily wooded area 30 miles northeast of Tchepone, in Khannouan Province, apparently occurred shortly after the aircraft radioed, “We have a hot fire,” followed by another transmission to “bail out.” But witnesses who reported the aircraft to be on fire also said they saw no parachutes deploy. An aerial search of the area found no evidence of survivors, the Pentagon statement said.

Crew remains and identifying items were recovered in 1995 by a joint U.S.-Lao team. The U.S. team was from the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, where DNA sequencing and other forensic techniques were used to determine the identities of the crew members. The lab team is part of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.



2 November 2004:

Six U.S. airmen killed when their plane went down in Laos in 1966 in the Vietnam War have been identified with genetic tests and other methods, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

They were crew members aboard an AC-47 "Spooky" gunship that was flying a nighttime reconnaissance mission over southern Laos when it went down in flames on June 23, 1966, in a heavily wooded area in Khannouan Province, the Pentagon said.

The six Air Force airmen will be buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia Friday with full military honors, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon's POW/MIA office.

They are: Colonel Theodore Kryszak of Buffalo, New York; Colonel Harding Smith of Los Gatos, California; Lieutenant Colonel Russell Martin of Bloomfield, Iowa; Chief Master Sergeant Harold Mullins of Denver, Colorado; Chief Master Sergeant Luther Rose of Howe, Texas, and Chief Master Sergeant Ervin Warren of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Greer said the cause of the crash remains unknown.

Their remains were recovered by a team of U.S. and Laotian specialists, headed by an American forensic anthropologist, in May and June 1995, Greer said. A local villager in October 1994 had identified an area where personal effects, aircraft wreckage and a crew member's identification tag were found.

The remains were transported to facilities in Hawaii, where scientists used forensic techniques including mitochondrial DNA sequencing, dental remains and X-rays to identify them, Greer said.

"We're very pleased that we're able, even decades later, to help some of the families close this very sad chapter in their lives," Greer said.

The Pentagon said 1,849 Americans remain missing in action from the Vietnam War, and more than 88,000 from all wars.


U.S. Troops' Remains in Laos to Be Buried 

Bone fragments that scientists determined are the remains of six U.S. servicemen whose AC-47 gunship crashed in Laos in 1966 during the Vietnam war will be buried as a group Friday at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The individual fragments, recovered by a joint U.S.-Lao excavation team in 1995, were too small to positively identify with any one of the six servicemen, but forensic anthropologists concluded after extensive study of the fragments and other evidence that the bones were from all six men.

Larger pieces of remains recovered from the crash site at the same time were positively identified in April 2003 as those of Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Luther L. Rose, of Howe, Texas, who was the aerial gunner aboard the AC-47 "Spooky," a World War II-era cargo plane that had been converted to a gunship.

Rose's remains were buried last summer.

The others were identified as Air Force Colonel Theodore E. Kryszak, of Buffalo, New York; Air Force Colonel Harding E. Smith, of Los Gatos, California; Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Russell D. Martin, of Bloomfield, Iowa; Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Ervin Warren, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania nd Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Harold E. Mullins, of Denver, Colorado.

Their plane went down on June 3, 1966, during a nighttime armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos, where U.S. forces were secretly engaged in combat to disrupt communist Lao and North Vietnamese forces.

The six were members of the 4th Air Commando Squadron, which was based in Nha Trang, South Vietnam, but maintained a detachment at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand to fly interdiction missions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Witnesses reported that the AC-47 caught fire and crashed in a heavily wooded area 30 miles northeast of Tchepone, in Khannouan Province, Laos, according to Defense Department records. No parachutes from the crew were observed and no emergency beepers were heard, the Pentagon says.

In 1994 a joint team of American and Lao specialists traveled to the suspected crash site and a villager led them to an area where personal effects, aircraft wreckage, crew-related materials and a crew member's identification tag were found. The next year an excavation was done and human remains were recovered, along with identifying materials from crew members.


Six U.S. airmen killed when their plane went down in Laos in 1966 in the Vietnam War have been identified with genetic tests and other methods, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

They were crew members aboard an AC-47 "Spooky" gunship that was flying a nighttime reconnaissance mission over southern Laos when it went down in flames on June 23, 1966, in a heavily wooded area in Khannouan Province, the Pentagon said.

The six Air Force airmen will be buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Friday with full military honors, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon's POW/MIA office.

They are: Colonel Theodore Kryszak of Buffalo, New York; Colonel Harding Smith of Los Gatos, California; Lieutenant Colonel Russell Martin of Bloomfield, Iowa; Chief Master Sergeant Harold Mullins of Denver, Colorado; Chief Master Sergeant Luther Rose of Howe, Texas, and Chief Master Sergeant Ervin Warren of Philadelphia, Philadelphia.

Greer said the cause of the crash remains unknown.

Their remains were recovered by a team of U.S. and Laotian specialists, headed by an American forensic anthropologist, in May and June 1995, Greer said. A local villager in October 1994 had identified an area where personal effects, aircraft wreckage and a crew member's identification tag were found.

The remains were transported to facilities in Hawaii, where scientists used forensic techniques including mitochondrial DNA sequencing, dental remains and X-rays to identify them, Greer said.

"We're very pleased that we're able, even decades later, to help some of the families close this very sad chapter in their lives," Greer said.

The Pentagon said 1,849 Americans remain missing in action from the Vietnam War, and more than 88,000 from all wars.



A Single Tribute to 6 Fliers
Vietnam-Era Crew's Remains Buried Together
By Michael Laris
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, November 6, 2004

On a busy patch of grass at Arlington National Cemetery, where the families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq have gathered often, an Air Force honor guard set down a painfully light silver coffin yesterday, marking a ceremonial end for six Air Force fliers who went down over Laos nearly four decades ago.

The crew was on a nighttime reconnaissance mission in 1966 when, according to a Department of Defense history, someone on the AC-47 gunship radioed: "We have a hot fire."

Air Crew, 3 June 1966: Funeral Services PHOTO

US Ari Force Crew Funeral Service PHOTO

Many who did not know the servicemen attended the ceremony, in which meager remains recovered in Laos in 1995 were buried in a single coffin.

Witnesses said they saw no parachutes before the burning aircraft crashed in a heavily wooded area, according to the Pentagon, which added that a subsequent aerial search found no evidence of survivors.

The coffin held remains excavated in 1995 after a villager directed an American and Laotian search team to the aircraft's wreckage and an ID tag.

The identification belonged to Harding E. Smith Jr.'s father.

"It took a long time before anyone was able to go in," Smith said yesterday. "There was not a lot left. They had my father's dog tags and his Geneva Convention card. . . . Because there was so little, they decided on a joint burial for the entire crew."

Tearful loved ones stood or sat before the single flag-covered coffin. They were joined by Thomas W. O'Connell, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and more than 100 members of Rolling Thunder, a leather-and-denim-clad group of veterans and motorcycle riders meeting in Washington this week. The group calls attention to service members who are missing in action and prisoners of war.

"We're honored to have these remains brought back to bring closure to their lives," said Air Force veteran Lou Garcia. While Americans were fiercely divided over the Vietnam War, he added, "We're all of one heart to see all Americans be accounted for."

Small green posts with the words "Temporary Grave Marker" stuck up from the soggy turf as rifles cracked a salute. One read: "Name/Group Burial." The six others listed the men memorialized yesterday: Harding E. Smith Sr. of Los Gatos, Calif.; Theodore E. Kryszak of Buffalo; Russell D. Martin of Bloomfield, Iowa; Ervin Warren of Philadelphia; Luther L. Rose of Howe, Tex.; and Harold E. Mullins, whose home town was not given.

Tom Lee, a retired Air Force intelligence officer who flew missions over Laos in a tiny "bird dog" aircraft in the late 1960s, said he was drawn to the service after his wife pointed out a blurb about the burial in the newspaper.

"In 1968, we didn't exist. It was a secret war. My wife didn't know where I was for one year," Lee said. "It's a case of the brothers coming home, the brotherhood. There's a mystique that's very difficult to describe. You're happy to see them back."

It was a painful, and ultimately disappointing, reunion for some.

"I don't know if it was the service I wanted. It was a fitting memorial service," Smith said.

A memorial was held at California's Moffett Field in 1974 when Smith's father was deemed killed in action after eight years on a list of the missing, he said. He said his anger at what he considers his father's unnecessary death colors his view of America's current foreign policy.

"Many people in this country have all but forgotten that war, and I'm afraid we haven't learned some of the lessons that war might have taught us," Smith said. "The Vietnam War was a senseless war. I wish I could say my father died for some great purpose, but I think he died for the foolishness of the American leadership."

Chris Whitcomb, whose husband is serving in Iraq, said she came to honor men she did not know. She stood watching workers dig a hole yesterday for the crew's coffin.

"It's a comfort to the families that the remains were found, excavated, brought back on American soil . . . as opposed to having it somewhere in Laos," she said.

"It's a horrible thing. But you know what? It's a necessary thing . . . I don't fear for my husband," she said. "My husband is doing what he wants to do. If you look in their eyes, these guys are ready to go."
 

 

Purple Heart Medal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Full Name: THEODORE EUGENE KRYSZAK
Date of Birth: 9/23/1932
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: COL
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
New York State Flag
Full Name: HARDING EUGENE SR SMITH
Date of Birth: 3/11/1918
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: COL
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
California State Flag
Full Name: RUSSELL DEAN MARTIN
Date of Birth: 6/22/1937
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: BLOOMFIELD, IOWA
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: LTC
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
Iowa State Flag
Full Name: LUTHER LEE ROSE
Date of Birth: 8/7/1935
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: HOWE, TEXAS
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: CMS
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
Texas State Flag
Full Name: ERVIN WARREN
Date of Birth: 9/6/1936
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: CMS
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
Pennsylvania State Flag
Full Name: HAROLD EUGENE MULLINS
Date of Birth: 2/26/1930
Date of Casualty: 6/3/1966
Home of Record: DENVER, COLORADO 
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: CMS
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
Status: MIA
Colorado State Flag

Group Burial Site - Section 60 - December 2004

Group Burial Site - Section 60 - December 2004

Group Burial Site - Section 60 - December 2004
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 2 December 2004

Air Crew Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, June 2006

Posted: 2 November 2004 Updated: 6 November 2004  Updated: 1 January 2005 Updated: 15 June 2006