The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Navy Lieutenant Commander J. Forrest G. Trembley of Spokane, Wash., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on April 1.
On August 21, 1967, Trembley and his fellow crewman took off in their A-6A Intruder from the U.S.S. Constellation on a strike mission against the Duc Noi rail yards near Hanoi, North Vietnam. On leaving the target area, their aircraft and another one in the flight were attacked by enemy MiGs. When last seen, the two aircraft were disappearing into the clouds near the Vietnamese-Chinese border. The last radio message from Trembley indicated the MiGs were in hot pursuit, but no further communications were heard.
Later that day, the Chinese government reported that two U.S. A-6s had been shot down over the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The broadcast noted that one of the four crewmen had been captured but the other three died in the shoot down. The Chinese released the surviving crewman in March 1973.
With the assistance of the Chinese government, a joint U.S.-PRC team interviewed witnesses to the shoot down and crash in 1993 and 1999. U.S. specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a Chinese citizen near the crash site. He turned over Trembleys identification tag and fragmentary human remains alleged to be those of American pilots. The team recovered some pilots gear from a burial site, but found no additional human remains.
Scientists of the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to identify the remains as those of Trembley.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam War, with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 747 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.
For additional information on the Defense Departments mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo, or call 703-699-1169.