On August 21, the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be buried with full military honors.
Army Maj. Dale W. Richardson, 28, of Mount Sterling, Illinois, will be buried August 29 in Mountain View, Arkansas. Richardson was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, and was a passenger aboard an UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) helicopter that was en route to Fire Support Base Katum, South Vietnam, when it was diverted due to bad weather. After flying into Cambodian airspace, the aircraft came under heavy enemy ground fire, causing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. The Huey’s four crewmen and its four passengers survived the landing. One crewman was able to evade being captured by enemy forces and later returned to friendly lines. The other three crewmen and one passenger were captured. Two of the captured crewmen were released by the Vietnamese in 1973, and the remains of the other two captured men, were returned to U.S. control in the 1980s and identified. Richardson died at the site of the crash during a fire fight with enemy forces. His remains were not recovered after the fire fight.
From 1992 through 2008, joint U.S.- Kingdom of Cambodia teams investigated the site without success. On February 18, 2009, a joint team interviewed witnesses in Memot District who claimed to have information on the loss. The witnesses identified a possible burial site for the unaccounted for servicemen. The team excavated the burial site but was unsuccessful locating the remains.
From Jan. 16, 2010 to March 11, 2011, joint U.S.- Cambodia teams excavated the area, but were unsuccessful recovering the crewman’s remains.
In February 2012, another joint U.S.-Cambodia team re-interviewed two of the witnesses. The witnesses identified a secondary burial site near the previously excavated site. The team excavated the secondary burial site and recovered human remains and military gear from a single grave.
In the identification of Richardson, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification tools, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister.
On March 31, 2015, DPAA announced that the remains of two additional U.S. servicemen were recovered in the same location in Memot District, formerly in Kampong Cham Province but today is part of Tbong Khmum Province. Army Staff Sgt. Bunyan D. Price Jr., 20, of Monroe, North Carolina, and Sgt. Rodney L. Griffin, 21, of Mexico, Missouri, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, were also passengers aboard the same Huey as Richardson. Price was buried on April 11, in Belmont, North Carolina and Griffin was buried on April 25, in Mexico, Missouri, with both servicemen receiving full military honors.
Today there are 1,627 American service members that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1169.