WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Lt. Col. Charles M. Walling of Phoenix was buried June 15 at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. There will be a group burial honoring Walling and fellow crew member, Maj. Aado Kommendant of Lakewood, N.J., at Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 8 — the 46th anniversary of the crash that took their lives.
On Aug. 8, 1966, Walling and Kommendant were flying an F-4C aircraft that crashed while on a close air support mission over Song Be Province, Vietnam. Other Americans in the area reported seeing the aircraft crash and no parachutes were deployed. Search and rescue efforts were not successful in the days following the crash.
In 1992, a joint United States-Socialist Republic of Vietnam team investigated the crash site and interviewed a local Vietnamese citizen who had recovered aircraft pieces from the site. In 1994, a joint U.S.-S.R.V. team excavated the site and recovered a metal identification tag, bearing Walling’s name, and other military equipment. In 2010, the site was excavated again. Human remains and additional evidence were recovered.
Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and material evidence along with forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA that matched Walling’s living sister, in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.