Hercules Crew Went Down In May, 1968
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office
announced Thursday 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
Air Force Col. William H. Mason, Camden, AR, Lt. Col. Jerry L.
Chambers, Muskogee, OK, Maj. William T. McPhail, Chattanooga, TN,
Maj. Thomas B. Mitchell, Littleton, CO, Chief Master Sgt.
John Q. Adam, Bethel, KS, Chief Master Sgt. Calvin C. Glover,
Steubenville, OH, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas E. Knebel, Midway, AR,
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
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
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.
C-130 File Image
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.