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.
U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Daniel W. Thomas, 24, of McCook, Nebraska, will be buried November 27 in his hometown. On July 6, 1971, Thomas was the pilot of an OV-10A aircraft with one other crewmember flying over central Laos in support of a Special Forces reconnaissance team. When the aircraft arrived in the area, the weather was bad, however it was determined that this would not affect the mission. Approximately thirty minutes after the last radio transmission from the crew of the OV-10A aircraft, the ground team heard an impact or explosion to their northeast, but could not determine the distance to the explosion. Extensive search efforts failed to locate the crash site.
After multiple attempts to investigate the crash site proved negative, in April 2014 a Vietnamese witness provided a photograph of an ID tag associated with one of the two crewmembers. In August 2014, possible human remains received from the witnesses were approved for repatriation and accessioned into the laboratory.
In September 2014, a Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) team surveyed the crash site, recovering possible aircraft wreckage and personal effects.
In March and April 2016, a VNOSMP team conducted a unilateral excavation of the crash site, and recovered possible human remains, an identification tag, life support items and other material evidence. On April 12, 2016, the DPAA laboratory received dental remains, ID tag, and other material evidence obtained from the VNOSMP.
To identify Thomas’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a brother, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
DPAA appreciates the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons and the Vietnamese Government for their assistance and partnership in this recovery effort.p
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.