Vietnam LOADMASTER veteran laid to rest 39 years later.
- Received from Bob DeHass...
Vietnam veteran laid to rest 39 years later
By Gale Rose, Pratt KS Tribune
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2007
It was took over 39 years but Airman 1st Class George Long, U.S. Air
Force, made the long trip home from Viet Nam to Medicine Lodge. Long
buried with military honors Sunday, Sept. 30 after a 14 year search
investigation by hundreds of people and untold thousands of hours of
work. Long had been missing since his C-130 Hercules was shot down on
May 12, 1968 near Da Nang in South Vietnam.
Also identified and returned home were the remains of Army Capt.
Orr Jr. of Kewanee, Ill. another crewmember on the C-130.
Long had been missing over 39 years and emotions were hard to express
for family members.
"It was quite a shock, we hadn't even thought much about it for a
of years," said Lewis Griem, Long's uncle. "It's hard to describe. I
feel some sense of closure if there is such a thing. I'm not sure
is closure in this situation."
Griem had difficulty describing his emotions but he remembered
"George was a super kid. He was kind of the All-American boy. He was
outstanding athlete. He was just that kind of kid," Greim said.
Long was a crewmember on a C-130 Hercules cargo plane that was
evacuating Vietnamese civilians on May 12, 1968. The plane left Kham
Special Forces Camp near Da Nang in South Vietnam and the crew
taking heavy enemy ground fire, according to a new release from the
Department of Defense, Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel
The plane carried four other crewmembers and many civilians. A Forward
Air Controller flying in the area reported the plane exploded in mid-
shortly after leaving the runway, the news release said.
The first clues to identifying Long came in 1985 and 1991 when U.S.
officials received remains and identification tags. The remains were
American but it was thought the Vietnamese sources knew the crash
A joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam team led by the Joint
Accounting Command traveled to Kham Duc in 1993 and were led to the
crash site by four local citizens who returned remains and
identification tags they had recovered in 1983 while looking for scrap
metal. The team recovered remains and aircraft wreckage at the site.
More remains plus life support equipment, crew-related gear and
effects were collected in 1994 during a joint team excavation,
to the news release.
The task of identifying Long's remains was monumental. The C-130 had a
crew of six and an unknown number of Vietnamese evacuees when it was
shot down, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagons POW/MIA
Determining the origin of the hundreds of the remains was an arduous
task and took intensive work for many years.
"All this doesn't happen at the speed of CSI," Greer said.
Once the remains were identified, mitochondrial DNA samples were
with DNA samples from the maternal bloodline through Long's sister
McDonald. Mitochondria is carried in males but only passed down in
females. Teeth and recovered items were all used to make the final
Hundreds were involved in the location, excavation and identification
Identifying 39-year-old remains requires time and persistence. The
advances in DNA have provided methods of identification that were not
available until 1993-1994. Advances in tooth identification through
computer-assisted photography have made teeth with fillings like
identification with fingerprints, Greer said.
"Teeth with fillings are usually a very solid marker for
identification," Greer said.
In 2006, mitochondrial DNA, along with other items, was used to
positively identify a soldier from World War I with DNA from his niece
who was over 80.
Sometimes the technology doesn't work as expected. It took 10 years to
identify Air Force Captain Charles Scharf even though he was the only
one in a plane when it went down. The DNA sample would not match. A
different type of DNA was used and identification was made from saliva
samples from love letters he sent to his wife.
According to HerkHq, this was the crew lost at Kham Duc on 12 May 68 /
Maj Bernard Bucher / Maj John McElroy / 1 LT Stephen Moreland / SSgt
Frank Hepler / A1C George Long