ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (AP) — The remains of a U.S. Navy fighter pilot missing in action in the Vietnam War are being returned to his family in Minnesota for burial.
Lt. William Swanson, of Zimmerman, will be laid to rest June 11 with military honors at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Swanson was 27 years old when the A-1H Skyraider aircraft he was piloting crashed during an armed reconnaissance mission over Khammouan Province, Laos on April 11, 1965, the Defense Department said. Other Americans in the area at the time reported seeing Swanson’s plane being hit by enemy fire and crashing and said no parachute was deployed. Military officials said recovery efforts at the time were impossible due to the presence of enemy forces.
In October 2000, a joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republican team was investigating another crash in Khammouan Province. Local villagers directed them to another crash site in the mountains north of Boualapha. The team surveyed the site and found small pieces of aircraft wreckage and unexploded bombs and rockets of the same type that Swanson’s A-1H had been carrying.
A joint recovery team excavated the site in 2009 and found material evidence and military equipment. In 2010, another team completed the excavation and recovered human remains and additional evidence.
The Defense Department said scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used circumstantial and material evidence to identify Swanson’s remains.
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, located near Washington, D.C., was established in 1993, after the U.S. Senate called for the Defense Department to form a single office to oversee and manage POW/MIA issues.
More than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War, according to the Defense Department.
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