Remains of a U.S. Navy pilot missing in action for more than 36 years from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to his family. Identified is Navy Lt. Edd D. Taylor of Heber Springs, Ark.
On August 29, 1965, Taylor flew off the Navy aircraft carrier USS Oriskany on a search and rescue mission into Son La Province, North Vietnam. While on his third pass over an area from which an emergency beeper signal was heard, his A-1H Skyraider was hit by enemy ground fire. As the pilot of a nearby A-1 aircraft watched, Taylor's aircraft struck a ridge and exploded into flames. No parachute was observed.
In October 1988, a joint U.S./Vietnam team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, investigated this case in Son La Province. The team interviewed a Vietnamese citizen who reported that he saw the crash of Taylor's aircraft as well as the body of the pilot at the crash site. The team visited the crash site and a nearby village where they found small fragments of wreckage, but no human remains. The serial number of one of the fragments matched that of Taylor's aircraft.
A subsequent visit to the crash site in 1989 yielded no remains, but in 1993, a U.S. archives research team in Hanoi discovered a Vietnamese record of a 1965 shootdown which appeared to document the circumstances of Taylor's loss. Other joint teams re-surveyed the crash site in 1996 and 1999, and scheduled it for excavation.
In March 2000, a joint U.S./Vietnam team, led by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI), excavated the crash site in Son La Province. The team recovered remains and pilot-related artifacts from the aircraft wreckage.
Among the forensic tools used by the CILHI to confirm the identification was that of mitochondrial DNA, in which DNA from a skeletal fragment was matched to that of a family member of Lt. Taylor.