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 are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Air Force 1st Lt. David A. Thorpe, 24, of Seneca Falls, N.Y., will be buried June 23 at
Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On Oct. 3, 1966, Thorpe’s C-130E, with
four other men aboard, failed to arrive at Nha Trang Air Base following their departure from Tan
Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. Rescue personnel found their remains at the crash site in
South Vietnam eight days later approximately 40 miles west of Nha Trang. The cause of the crash
is not known.
Between 1984 and 1996 the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) received
human remains tentatively linked to Thorpe and the other crew members from various sources
including refugees from the Vietnam War and Vietnamese citizens. But lacking advanced
scientific tools and complete records during this time period, JPAC was unable to make an
individual identification of Thorpe’s remains so he was buried as part of a group at Arlington.
Other remains associated with the entire group were held at JPAC’s laboratory for future testing.
As DNA testing procedures improved in the late 1990s, JPAC’s forensic anthropologists
applied the latest technologies from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory to include
mitochondrial testing, a sample of which matched the DNA from Thorpe’s sister. His dental
records also helped confirm the identification.
With the accounting of this airman, 1,687 service members still remain missing from the
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.