Vietnam/USA — Airmen Missing From Vietnam War Identified

The Depart­ment of Defense POW/Missing Per­son­nel Office announced today that the remains of nine U.S. ser­vice­men, miss­ing in action from the Viet­nam War, have been account­ed-for and returned to their fam­i­lies for bur­ial with full mil­i­tary hon­ors.

Air Force Col. William H. Mason, Cam­den, Ark.; Lt. Col. Jer­ry L. Cham­bers, Musko­gee, Okla.; Maj. William T. McPhail, Chat­tanooga, Tenn.; Maj. Thomas B. Mitchell, Lit­tle­ton, Colo.; Chief Mas­ter Sgt. John Q. Adam, Bethel, Kan.; Chief Mas­ter Sgt. Calvin C. Glover, Steubenville, Ohio; Chief Mas­ter Sgt. Thomas E. Knebel, Mid­way, Ark.; Chief Mas­ter Sgt. Melvin D. Rash, York­town, Va.; and Mas­ter Sgt. Gary Pate, Brooks, Ga., were buried as a group today in Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery. The indi­vid­u­al­ly iden­ti­fied remains of each air­man were pre­vi­ous­ly returned to their fam­i­lies for bur­ial.

On May 22, 1968, these men were aboard a C-130A Her­cules on an evening flare mis­sion over north­ern Sala­van Province, Laos. Fif­teen min­utes after the air­craft made a radio call, the crew of anoth­er U.S. air­craft observed a large ground fire near the last known loca­tion of Mason’s air­craft. Search and res­cue attempts were not ini­ti­at­ed due to heavy anti­air­craft fire in the area.

Ana­lysts from DPMO devel­oped case leads with infor­ma­tion span­ning more than 40 years. Through inter­views with eye­wit­ness­es and research in the Nation­al Archives, sev­er­al loca­tions in Laos and South Viet­nam were pin­point­ed as poten­tial crash sites. Between 1989 and 2008, teams from Laos People’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic and the Viet­nam, led by the Joint POW/MIA Account­ing Com­mand, pur­sued leads, inter­viewed vil­lagers, and con­duct­ed 10 field inves­ti­ga­tions and four exca­va­tions in Quang Tri Province, Viet­nam. They recov­ered air­craft wreck­age, human remains, crew-relat­ed equip­ment and per­son­al effects.

Sci­en­tists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Lab­o­ra­to­ry also used mito­chon­dr­i­al DNA – which matched that of the crewmem­bers’ fam­i­lies – as well as den­tal com­par­isons in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the remains.

Since late 1973, the remains of 927 Amer­i­cans killed in the Viet­nam War have been account­ed-for and returned to their fam­i­lies. With the account­ing of these air­men, 1,719 ser­vice mem­bers still remain miss­ing from the con­flict.

For addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on the Defense Department’s mis­sion to account for miss­ing Amer­i­cans, vis­it the DPMO Web site at or call 703- 699‑1169.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)