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Marine's Remains Identified After 30 Years

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 9, 1998 – The remains of a Marine Corps pilot shot down over Vietnam in 1967 have been identified and will be buried July 16 in Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery.

Capt. Harold J. Hellbach was 24 when his F-8E Crusader aircraft was hit May 19 by enemy fire during a mission over Quang Binh province.

He radioed his wingman that he was losing hydraulic power and was heading for the coast, but as the wingman watched, Hellbach's jet rolled, inverted and crashed.

No one saw a parachute or picked up emergency beeper signals, and a later search-and-rescue mission came up empty-handed, a DoD POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Office spokesman said.

During two 1993 visits to Vietnamese military museums of aircraft wreckage, researchers from the U.S. Joint Task Force-Full Accounting found photographs corresponding to Hellbach's crash. Four years later, a U.S.-Vietnamese team visited the area in the photographs and were led by villagers to a crash site in a cultivated field. The team found parts of an aircraft engine and cockpit glass, the spokesman said.

An excavation team went to the crash site in August 1997 and recovered human remains along with numerous pieces of wreckage and personal equipment. The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii analyzed the evidence and confirmed the remains to be Hellbach's.

Hellbach's son, Harold Jr., of New Orleans, and other family members are scheduled to attend the military funeral at Arlington.

The remains of 494 missing Americans have been identified since the end of the Vietnam War; 2,089 Americans are still unaccounted-for.

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