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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William C. Ryan, Jr., 25, of Hoboken, New Jersey, will be buried May 10 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On May 11, 1969, Ryan was the radar intercept officer of an F-4B aircraft, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Force 115, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force Pacific, on a combat mission over Savannakhet Province, Laos. While pulling out of a bombing pass, the aircraft was hit by enemy fire. The pilot lost control and called several times for Ryan, but received no response. The pilot ejected before the aircraft crashed, and other members of the flight only witnessed one parachute leave the aircraft. The location of the crash site precluded a search and recovery effort, but the pilot was rescued. Ryan was declared deceased as of May 11, 1969.
From January 1990 until May 2012, joint teams from the U.S., the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons interviewed numerous witnesses to the crash, gathering information regarding Ryan’s loss.
From May 2012 until January 2016, joint teams made six trips to complete a difficult excavation of a crash site associated with Ryan’s loss, near Ban Alang Noi, recovering life support items, aircraft wreckage and possible human remains. On Feb. 17, 2016, the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Ryan’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental comparisons, including isotope analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
The support from the government of Laos was vital to the success of this recovery.
Today there are 1,611 American servicemen and civilians 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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.