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november/december 2008

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On September 24, five days after National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the Department of Defense’s POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the remains of two U.S. servicemen missing from the Vietnam War have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Captains James E. Cross of Warren, Ohio, and Gomer D. Reese III of Scarsdale, N.Y., were flying a U-17B light aircraft April 24, 1970, on an orientation flight over Xiangkhoang Province in Laos when it was struck by enemy ground fire, crashed, and burned. Recovery efforts proved futile. Cross, 27, and Reese, 25, were Raven Forward Air Controllers assigned to the Ambassador to Laos.

American and Lao teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, conducted several investigations of the incident from 1994-98, including surveying the crash site and interviewing Laotian citizens who claimed to have seen the crash. Another joint team re-surveyed the crash site in 2004, and recovered life-support equipment. A third joint team excavated the crash site last year and recovered human remains. In the spring of 2008, a team completed the excavation and recovered more human remains, leading to the identification of the two FAC pilots.

Cross was buried Oct. 10 in Warren, Ohio. Reese will be buried in the spring in Arlington National Cemetery.



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