The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be buried with full military honors.
Army Chief Warrant Officers 3 James L. Phipps of Mattoon, Illinios, and Rainer S. Ramos of Wiesbaden, Germany, were the pilots of a UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter gunship that was shot down in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. Also aboard the aircraft were door gunners Staff Sgt. Warren Newton of Eugene, Oregon, and Spc. Fred J. Secrist of Eugene, Oregon. The crew was assigned to Troop C, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 14th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. The crew will be buried, as a group, on June 17 at Arlington.
On Jan. 9, 1968, the crew was on a mission over Quang Tin Province (now part of Quang Nam Province), South Vietnam, when the Huey was struck by ground fire, causing it to crash and explode in a North Vietnamese bunker and trench system. The crew was declared missing in action. On Jan. 20, 1968, a U.S. led team recovered the body of Secrist and he was returned to his family for burial.
Between August 1993 and August 2011, U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams surveyed and/or excavated the site three times. From Aug. 6-21, 2011, a joint U.S.-S.R.V. team recovered human remains and personal effects.
In the identification of the recovered remains, 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 Secrist’s sister and brother. Remains not individually identified represent the entire crew and will be buried as a group.
Today, 1,627 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover Americans lost during the Vietnam War.