The remains of nine U.S. Navy crewmembers, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and their remains are being returned to their families for burial.
The nine are identified as Cmdr. Delbert A. Olson, Casselton, N.D.; Lt. j.g.'s Denis L. Anderson, Hope, Kan.; Arthur C. Buck, Sandusky, Ohio; and Philip P. Stevens, Twin Lake, Mich.; Petty Officers 2nd class Richard M. Mancini, Amsterdam, N.Y.; Michael L. Roberts, Purvis, Miss., Donald N. Thoresen and Kenneth H. Widon, Detroit and Petty Officer 3rd class Gale R. Siow, Huntington Park, Calif.
A group burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on June 18, 2003.
The nine departed Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base on Jan.11, 1968 onboard a Navy OP-2E Neptune aircraft for a mission over Laos to drop sensors which detected enemy movements. During its last radio contact, the crew reported they were descending through dense clouds. When they did not return to their home base, a search was initiated but found no evidence of a crash. Two weeks later, an Air Force aircrew photographed what appeared to be the crash site, but enemy activity in the area prevented a recovery operation.
Between 1993 and 2002, six U.S.-Lao investigation teams led by the Joint Task Force Full Accounting interviewed villagers in the surrounding area, gathered aircraft debris and surveyed the purported crash site scattered on two ledges of Phou Louang Mountain in Khammouan Province. During a 1996 visit, team members also recovered identification cards for several crewmembers, as well as human remains.
Full-scale recovery missions by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) in both 2001 and 2002 yielded additional remains, as well as identification of other crewmembers. More than 1,900 Americans are missing in action from the Vietnam War, with another 86,000 MIA from the Cold War, the Korean War and WWII.