News Releases

Air America Co-Pilot Accounted For From Vietnam War (Townley, R.)

Release No: 19-023 March 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today Mr. Roy F. Townley, 52, of Ontario, California, killed during the Vietnam War, was accounted for on Dec. 20, 2018.

On Dec. 27, 1971, Townley, an employee of Air America Incorporated, was co-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. Townley 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 Sept. 25, 2018, the pilot, George L. Ritter, was accounted for. On Dec. 20, 2018, crewman Edward J. Weissenback was accounted for.

To identify Townley’s remains, DPAA used anthropological 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.

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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, find us on social media at or call (703) 699-1420/1169.

Townley’s personnel profile can be viewed at

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