The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been
identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Air Force Maj. Richard G. Elzinga, 27, of Shedd, Ore., will be buried on July 8 in
Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. On March 26, 1970, Elzinga and his co-pilot
went missing when their O-1G Birddog aircraft failed to return to base from a familiarization
flight over Laos. Fifteen minutes after the last radio contact, a communication and visual search
showed no sign of the men or their aircraft. Search and rescue missions continued for two days
with no results.
Between 1994 and 2009, joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) teams
led by JPAC, analyzed leads, interviewed villagers and surveyed possible crash site locations.
During several joint field surveys, teams recovered human remains, aircraft wreckage, and crewrelated
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the
Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA – which matched
that of his aunt and cousin-- in the identification of Elzinga’s remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.