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National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 1997 –  

Remains of Two U.S. Pilots Identified

The remains of two U.S. Air Force pilots previously unaccounted-for from Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.

They are identified as Maj. James B. East of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Lt. Col. Thomas R. Morgan of Akron, Ohio.

East was attacking an enemy mortar position in Laos on April 26, 1969, when his A-1J Skyraider was struck by enemy ground fire, crashed and exploded.

Morgan was conducting a strike mission on Jan. 26, 1967, over a target in South Vietnam. As the attack began, other pilots on the mission saw smoke trailing from Morgan's F-100D Super Sabre and saw it burst into flames and break in half prior to impact.

In 1994, a Lao witness identified a possible crash site associated with that of East. A U.S.-Lao recovery team excavated the site later that year and found aircraft wreckage, pilot-related items and human bone fragments.

U.S. investigations of Morgan's crash site in 1967 and 1968 located no remains. A U.S.-Vietnamese recovery team excavated the crash site in 1994 and found human remains. In 1996, a Vietnamese turned over more bone fragments and personal effects of Morgan scavenged from the crash site. Morgan's remains were subsequently identified.

DNA testing confirmed the identifications. The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii will return the men's remains to their families. With the identification of these men, 2,116 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. (DoD release)

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