Two MIAs' Remains Returned to Families
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 20, 1998 The remains of Vietnam-era casualties Marine pilot Capt. John B. Sherman of Darien, Conn., and Army Staff Sgt. Robert F. Preiss Jr. of Cornwall, N.Y., were confirmed recently and will be returned to their families for burial.
Sherman's F-8E Crusader jet was hit by enemy ground fire on March 25, 1966, when he was dive-bombing enemy positions in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. He crashed in Quang Nam-Da Nang Province. Heavy enemy ground activity foiled search teams.
In April and May 1993, a U.S.-Vietnamese search team interviewed informants in Quang Nam-Da Nang Province. Two recalled burying a dead pilot in March or April 1966 near the site of a U.S. plane crash. Two other witnesses said they disinterred the remains in 1990 and gave them to the team.
The investigators surveyed the crash and burial sites and found aircraft wreckage and pilot-related items. The Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii analyzed the remains and evidence and confirmed Sherman's identity.
Preiss died in an enemy ambush while leading a six-man Special Forces reconnaissance team into Laos on May 12, 1970. Heavy enemy action and difficult terrain prevented his men from recovering his body. Six days later, a recovery team reported that a rockslide apparently had covered the body with large boulders.
Since March 1995, four U.S.-Lao teams investigated Preiss' loss in Xekong Province. The first found nothing; the second in May 1995 found inconclusive remains and equipment. The third in April 1997 recovered only material evidence. Earlier this year, a fourth joint team excavated a suspected site and recovered remains and personal effects. Lab analysis in Hawaii confirmed the remains to be those of Preiss.
With these cases closed, 496 Americans missing from the Vietnam War have been accounted for; 2,087 are still unaccounted for.