The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted for from the Vietnam War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Lt. Col. Robert G. Nopp, 31, of Salem, Oregon, accounted for on Feb. 1, 2018, will be buried October 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On July 13, 1966 Nopp was assigned to the 131st Aviation Company, serving as a pilot aboard an OV-1C aircraft, on a night surveillance mission from Phu Bai Airfield over Attapu Province, Laos People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.). Visibility was poor due to heavy thunderstorms. Radar and radio contact were lost with the aircraft, which was not uncommon due to the mountainous terrain in that part of Laos. When the aircraft did not return as scheduled, search efforts were initiated, but no crash site was found. Also lost in the crash was Army Staff Sgt. Marshall F. Kipina, 21, of Calumet, Michigan, the aircraft’s observer.
During the 1990s and 2000s, joint U.S./L.P.D.R. teams investigated the incident and recommended a potential crash site in Attapu Province, L.P.D.R. for excavation. The site, located in extremely difficult terrain, required multiple missions to excavate. The teams recovered osseous material, personal equipment and material evidence. Analysis of the aircraft indicated the crash was of the same aircraft Nopp was flying, and an ejection seat component indicated at least one person was in the aircraft when it crashed. Kipina was identified corrently with Nopp.
To identify Nopp’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the government of Laos for their assistance in accounting for Nopp.
Today there are 1,594 American servicemen and civilians that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. Nopp’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420/1169.
Nopp’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTgnEAG