News Releases

Airman Missing From Vietnam War Accounted For (Chorlins)

Release No: 15-014 April 7, 2015 PRINT | E-MAIL

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Capt. Richard D. Chorlins, 24, of St. Louis, will be buried April 14, 2015, at the Air Force Academy in, Colorado Springs, Colo. On Jan. 11, 1970, Chorlins was the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider aircraft that crashed into a mountain while attacking enemy targets in Khammouan Province, Laos. Neither the forward controller directing the attack, nor Chorlins’ wingman saw him exit the aircraft before impact. Chorlins was reported as missing in action. A military review board later amended his status to dead, body not recovered.

From 1994 through 2013, joint U.S./ Lao People’s Democratic Republic and joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams investigated the A-1H loss both in Laos and Vietnam. Investigations revealed that the crash site was scavenged after the war, and all attempts to recover human remain were unsuccessful.

On Feb. 11, 2003, the Department of Defense (DoD) laboratory received a package labeled with Chorlins’ information from an American citizen, who had previously received the remains from a Vietnamese local living near Cam Ranh Bay. The remains received were too small to test for DNA at that time, but by 2014 advances in technology enabled the remains to be tested again by the Armed Forces Identification Laboratory (AFDIL).

In the identification of Chorlins, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his mother.

Today there are 1,628 American service members that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

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 or call (703) 699-1420.

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