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News Release

Press Release | Sept. 23, 2011

Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Identified (Phillips)

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Specialist 4 Marvin F. Phillips, 20, of Palmer, Tenn., will be buried Sept. 26 in his hometown. Forty-five years earlier, on Sept. 26, 1966, Phillips and three aircrew members crashed into nine feet of water, off the coast of South Vietnam, when their UH-1B Huey helicopter was struck by small arms fire. The only surviving crew member was rescued and the remains of a second soldier were recovered by other aircrews in the area. Extensive searches were conducted but no sign of the remaining two crew members were found.

From 1992 to 1998, joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed witnesses and investigated locations where an American soldier had purportedly been buried. In 2010, the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons notified U.S. officials that a villager in Tra Vinh Province was in possession of human remains thought to be related to a U.S. aircraft crash. Following an interview with the villager, the remains were turned over to the joint U.S./S.R.V. team. At the time he recovered the remains there were three U.S. aircraft crashes in the water near the villager’s home.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Phillips’ sister—in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call (703) 699-1169 or visit the DPMO Web site at