The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Mr. George L. Ritter, 49, of Philadelphia, killed during the Vietnam War, was accounted for on Sept. 25, 2018.
On Dec. 27, 1971, Ritter, an employee of Air America Incorporated, was piloting an Air America C-123K from Udorn Airfield, Kingdom of Thailand, headed for Xianghon District, Xaignabouli Province, Laos. The aircraft was on a routine resupply mission for U.S. Agency for International Development and was last heard from when they were northeast of Sayaboury. Laos. Search and rescue efforts were continued through Dec. 31, 1971, but no sign of the aircraft or the four crewmembers were found. Ritter was subsequently reported missing.
In October 1997, a Joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team interviewed witnesses in Ban Donkeo, Houn District, Oudomxai Province. The individuals led the team to the crash site, approximately 400 meters north of the village. The team recovered various pieces of aircraft wreckage.
Subsequent field operations in December 2014 and May 2017 led investigators to additional witnesses and a possible burial site.
In October and November 2017, as well as July and August 2018, Joint U.S./L.P.D.R. recovery teams excavated the crash site, recovering possible human remains, personal effects, life support items and aircraft wreckage. The remains were accessioned to the DPAA laboratory for identification. On Dec. 20, 2018, co-pilot Roy F. Townley and crewman Edward J. Weissenback were accounted for.
To identify Ritter’s remains, DPAA used dental analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the government and the people of Laos for their partnership in this mission.
Today, there are 1,589 American servicemen and civilians still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
For family contact information, visit CIA.gov and select “Contact Us.”
For future funeral information, visit https://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1771602/air-america-pilot-accounted-for-from-vietnam-war-ritter-g/
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing 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.
Ritter’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTbTEAW