The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Air Force Maj. Burke H. Morgan, U.S. Air Force, of Manitou Springs, Colo., was buried Sept. 7 beside his wife, Mary, at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The service there coincided with his U.S. Air Force Academy graduating class’ 45th reunion.
On Aug. 22, 1967, Morgan and a fellow officer took off from Nakhon Phanom air base, Thailand, in their A-26A Invader on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. The crew had radio contact on their mission shortly after midnight, but were neither seen nor heard from again. Electronic and visual searches of their last-reported location in Xiangkhoang Province, as well as over the planned flight path, did not locate the missing aircraft.
A joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic team traveled to the province in 1993 to interview three informants about various crash sites. The men recalled the 1967 crash, as well as the burial of the crew members. They also stated that one of the bodies was disinterred by unknown persons in 1986.
Four years later, another joint U.S.-Lao team resurveyed the original crash site, and requested that the Lao government conduct a unilateral investigation. The Lao government was able to confirm that some remains were exhumed in the mid-1980s, and promised to continue its investigation.
Then in 2002, Lao government officials reported that the remains had been turned over to a Lao official in 1987 or 1988, but that the official had since died. His driver, however, had possession of those remains and had been holding them in safekeeping awaiting directions from authorities.
Scientists of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command were able to identify those remains using a variety of forensic methods, including analysis of skeletal and dental remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1169.