Remains of missing Vietnam War pilots honored
For The Record
The remains of two servicemen missing in action since the Vietnam War were buried today in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. With the accounting of these airmen, 1,702 service members still remain missing from the conflict.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced on Wednesday that the remains of Air Force Col. James E. Dennany, 34, of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Maj. Robert L. Tucci, 27, of Detroit have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
On Nov. 12, 1969, Dennany and Tucci were flying the number three aircraft of three F-4Ds escorting an AC-130 gunship on a night strike mission over Laos. After the gunship attacked six trucks and set two of them on fire, the AC-130 crew’s night vision equipment was impacted by the glow from the fires. They requested that Tucci attack the remaining trucks. During the attack, gunship crew members observed anti-aircraft artillery gunfire directed at Tucci’s plane followed by a large explosion. No radio transmissions were heard from the F-4D following the attack and no parachutes were seen in the area. An immediate electronic search revealed nothing and no formal search was initiated due to heavy anti-aircraft fire in the area.
Beginning in the mid-1990s analysts at DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) developed case leads they collected from wartime reporting and archival research.
In 1994, a joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team led by JPAC analyzed leads, interviewed villagers, and surveyed five reported crash sites near the record loss location with negative results.
In 1999, during another joint survey, officials in Ban Soppeng, Laos, turned over remains later determined to be human, two .38 caliber pistols and other crew-related equipment that villagers had recovered from a nearby crash site.
Between 1999 and 2009, other joint U.S.-L.P.D.R. teams pursued leads, interviewed villagers, and conducted three excavations. They recovered aircraft wreckage, human remains, crew-related equipment and personal effects.
JPAC scientists used forensic tools and circumstantial evidence in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/ or call 703-699-1169.