American Forces Press Service
HANOI, Vietnam — The Vietnamese government will open three areas to help resolve the fate of Americans missing in action from the Vietnam War, DOD officials said here, Tuesday.
Following a meeting at the Defense Ministry, Phoung Quang Thanh, Vietnamese defense minister, announced his government would allow U.S. personnel to examine three areas once off limits.
Leon Panetta, defense secretary, thanked the Vietnamese leader for all the support Vietnam has provided over the years. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Detachment 2, based in Hanoi, has conducted 107 field searches for Americans missing in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has fully supported these efforts with personnel and information, said Ron Ward, a casualty resolution specialist with the detachment.
The three sites Vietnam opened to exploration are in the central part of the country. The first site is in Quang Binh province and involves the crash of an Air Force F-4C Phantom II jet in 1967 with two personnel aboard. Detachment specialists located the site in 2008, but now will be allowed to examine it, Ward said.
The second site is in Kontum province and involves the loss of an Army private first class in January 1968 during the Tet Offensive.
The third site is in Quang Tri province and involves the loss of a Marine F-4J Wild Weasel aircraft. One of the crew of two punched out of the aircraft and was rescued.
Panetta said these efforts are important to troops serving today because they know the military means that it will leave no man behind.
To date, the command has repatriated and identified 687 remains in Vietnam. A total of 1,284 Americans remain missing. Of these, 586 cases are in the category of “no further pursuit,” meaning there is conclusive evidence the individual perished but it is not possible to recover remains.