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October 26, 2000
VIETNAM WAR MIAS IDENTIFIED

Eleven U.S. Air Force servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial.

They are identified as Colonel Charles P. Claxton, Chicago, Illinois; Colonel Donald E. Fisher, Halfway, Oregon.; Lieutenant Colonel Edwin N. Osborne, Jr., Raiford, Florida; Lieutenant Colonel Gerald G. Van Buren, Toledo, Ohio; Lieutenant Colonel Gordon J. Wenaas, Mayville, North Dakota; Major Frank C. Parker III, Bridgeport, Pennsylvania; Chief Master Sergeant Jack McCrary, Madison, Tennessee; Chief Master Sergeant Wayne A. Eckley, Enterprise, Oregon; Chief Master Sergeant Gean P. Clapper, Altoona, Pennsylvania; and Chief Master Sergeant James R. Williams, Charlotte, North Carolina. The name of the eleventh crewmember is not being released at the request of his family. NOTE: Reported to be Chief Master Sergeant Edward Joseph Darcy.

On December 29, 1967, their Air Force C-130E Hercules took off from Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam, on a special mission over North Vietnam. Approximately four hours into their mission, the crew made a radio report from an area near Lai Chau Province, North Vietnam. When they failed to return to base, a visual and electronic search was initiated. About a month later, the search was ended when the aircraft could not be located.

In October and November 1992, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam team interviewed five witnesses who had knowledge of the crash site. Two of the witnesses had visited the area of the crash in 1967 or 1968 and provided information about the site. Some of the witnesses turned over identification cards or tags that contained the names of some of the crew members. The team visited the site and recovered some human remains.

In February 1993, the government of Vietnam turned over additional remains and a photocopy of more identification media. In October and November a joint team led by Joint Task Force-Full Accounting excavated the suspected crash site where they recovered aircraft wreckage, personal effects and human remains. In 1994 and 1995, Vietnamese citizens and government officials turned over additional remains.

Department of Defense analysts concluded from the distribution of the aircraft wreckage that the C-130 hit a mountainside and that the crew was unaware of the impending crash. Nine parachutes were accounted for among the artifacts recovered, and there are no unresolved live sighting reports associated with this incident.

Analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii established the identification of the eleven servicemen.

The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans missing in action is of the highest national priority.

Air Crew Gravesite
Photograph By M. R. Patterson, October 2002

Purple Heart Medal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vietnam Campaign Medal
 

James Randall Williams
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
James R. Williams Vietnam Wall RUBBING

WILLIAMS, JAMES R
CMSGT   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 03/28/1965 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/28/1945
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

North Carolina State Flag
Gean Preston Clapper
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
G. P. Clapper Vietnam Wall Rubbing

CLAPPER, GEAN P
CMSGT   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/07/1952 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 07/24/1932
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Pennsylvania State Flag
Wayne Alvin Eckley
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
Wayne A. Eckley Vietnam Wall Rubbing

ECKLEY, WAYNE A
CMSGT   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/22/1957 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/22/1936
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Oregon State Flag
Edward Joseph Darcy
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
E. J. Darcy Vietnam Wall Rubbing

DARCY, EDWARD J
CMSGT   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/07/1959 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/19/1939
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Maine State Flag
Jack McCrary
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
Jack McCrary Vietnam Wall RUBBING

MCCRARY, JACK
CMSGT   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 11/30/1955 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/30/1934
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Tennessee State Flag
Frank C. Parker III
Major, United States Air Force
Frank C. Parker III Vietnam Wall RUBBING

PARKER, FRANK C III
MAJ   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 03/04/1961 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/02/1940
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Pennsylvania State Flag
Gordon James Wenaas
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force
Gordon James Wenaas Vietnam Wall Rubbing

WENAAS, GORDON J
LT COL   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 03/02/1952 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/02/1932
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

North Dakota State Flag
Gerald Gordon Van Buren
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force
G. G. Van Buren Vietnam Wall RUBBING

VAN BUREN, GERALD G
LT COL   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 08/08/1955 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/08/1935
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

GG Van Buren PHOTO

Ohio State Flag
Edwin Nelms Osborne, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force
E. N. Osborne, Jr. Vietnam Wall RUBBING

OSBORNE, EDWIN N JR
LT COL   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/01/1953 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/01/1933
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Florida State Flag
Donald Ellis Fisher
Colonel, United States Air Force
Donald Ellis Fisher Vietnam Wall RUBBING

FISHER, DONALD E
COL   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/19/1943 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/19/1924
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Oregon State Flag
Charles Peter Claxton
Colonel, United States Air Force
Charles Peter Claxton Vietnam Wall Rubbing

CLAXTON, CHARLES P
COL   US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 12/22/1950 - 12/29/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/22/1932
DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/1967
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/2000
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7915
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Illinois State Flag
From a Contemporary Press Report:

AIR FORCE COL. CHARLES P. CLAXTON;
DIED IN VIETNAM WAR PLANE CRASH 

December 16, 2000 

Late on Dec. 29, 1967, Patricia Claxton received a telephone call from an Air Force officer who told her that her husband had disappeared during a mission in North Vietnam. Thirty-three years would pass before a memorial service marked the end of her long wait for an explanation.

A military burial service was held for Col. Charles P. Claxton, 35, an Air Force pilot and Chicago native, and his 10 fellow crewmembers November 15, 2000, in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

What happened to Col. Claxton's C-130 Hercules plane after it lost radio contact wasn't learned until a 1992 investigation in a remote area uncovered the plane's wreckage and the crew's remains.

"I would say we really hoped up until 15 years ago," Patricia Claxton said from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. "There was never any indication the plane had crashed or the men had been captured; we didn't know, but we just hoped we'd receive some positive information."

Col. Claxton joined the Air Force a year after graduating from Mt. Carmel High School in 1951. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1953.

Col. Claxton hoped to attend college with credits he earned in the Air Force, perhaps studying political science, but in August 1967, he was sent to fight in the Vietnam War.

He said goodbye to his wife and five children, whom he had just helped move to Kincheloe Air Force Base in Kinross, Mich.

His daughter Kimberly Samuelson, who was 8 when the family moved, said she remembered her father helping his children with homework, cooking breakfast on weekends and comforting her when she got an allergy shot."He was a great father," she said.

Four months after beginning his service in Vietnam, Col. Claxton joined a crew on a special mission over North Vietnam, taking off just after midnight from Nha Trang. Four hours later, crewmembers reported by radio that they were near the Lai Chau province of North Vietnam. They never returned to base.

A search was called off a month later. Then, in 1992, an investigation led by a team from the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam found witnesses of the crash--some of whom had identification cards and tags from the crew. The wreckage and remains were recovered. 

The U.S. Department of Defense concluded the low-flying C-130 had crashed into a mountainside before the crew could escape. The government spent years identifying the remains.

Mrs. Claxton said the department never determined whether the plane encountered bad weather or enemy fire.

"I remember him as a good and loving person, a very good citizen and a good husband and father," she said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Col. Claxton is survived by another daughter, Cheryl Cardamoni; three sons, John, Joseph and James; and seven grandchildren.



Posted: 26 December 2000  Updated: 6 June 2002  Updated: 12 October 2002 Updated: 22 September 2004 Updated: 12 June 2006
Updated: 11 February 2007