On September 19, 2013 the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced that the remains of Air Force pilots Maj. James E. Sizemore of Lawrenceville, Ill., and Maj. Howard V. Andre Jr., of Memphis, Tenn., have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors on Sept. 23 at Arlington National Cemetery.
On July 8, 1969, Sizemore and Andre were on what the military called a “night armed reconnaissance mission” when their Douglas A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos. NOTE: This is the “official version” but according to Wilipedia the A-26 was designated a “light bomber aircraft” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-26_Invader).
Both men died in the crash during their secret mission to recon or bomb Laos – but their remains were unaccounted for and listed formally as MIA (“Missing In Action”) until April 2013. In part to help hide America’s involvement in the secret covert war being waged in Loas at the time during the Vietnam war years – which was actively being “covered up” by the U.S. government for decades later.
In 1993, a joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic team investigated an aircraft crash site in Laos. They recovered aircraft wreckage from an A-26 bomber aircraft.
The team was not however able to “conduct a complete excavation of the site at that time”, according to the Pentagon.
Twice in 2010, joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic teams conducted excavations of the crash site recovering human remains, aircraft wreckage, personal effects and military equipment associated with Sizemore and Andre. But it would take another 3 years to actually ID the remains.
In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) used “circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools”, such as dental comparison – which matched Sizemore’s records.
To date there are more than 1,640 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, call 703-699-1169 or visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.