The Department of Defense (DOD) announced Friday that the remains of Army Maj. Dale W. Richardson, missing from the Vietnam War, were found, identified and will be buried soon with full military honors.
Richardson, of Mount Sterling, Illinois, will be buried Aug. 29, in Mountain View, Ark indicates the DOD POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). The soldier “was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, and was the 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.”
Richardson was one of eight U.S. Army personnel flying over the northern Tay Ninh Province of South Vietnam on May 2, 1970. With bad weather, they crossed into Cambodia and were forced down by hostile ground fire, just southwest of Memot City.
“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 DPAA stated. “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,” the DPAA continued. “Richardson died at the site of the crash during a fire fight with enemy forces. His remains were not recovered after the fire fight.”
A joint team from the United States and Kingdom of Cambodia (K.O.C.) searched the landing site area from 1992 through 2008 with no success. On Feb. 18, 2009 another team talked with eyewitnesses who claimed to have information of the loss from the Memot District of Cambodia. They acknowledged a potential burial site for the lost servicemen. The team excavated the burial site but failed to locate the remains.
Again, the joint teams excavated the area from Jan. 16, 2010 to March 11, 2011, but were unsuccessful recovering the crewman’s remains.
“In February 2012, another joint U.S. / K.O.C. team re-interviewed two of the witnesses,” the DPAA reported. “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.”
Today there are 1,627 American service members that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.