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.
He is Master Sgt. Norman Payne, U.S. Army, of Cleveland, Ohio. He was buried on Dec.
30 in Cleveland.
Representatives from the Army met with Payne’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and
identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary
of the Army.
On Dec. 18, 1968, Payne was a member of a long-range reconnaissance patrol operating in
Salavan Province in southern Laos. The unit set up a defensive position for the night when it was
attacked by enemy forces. Payne was last seen attempting to move from one element of the patrol
to the other. A rescue team searched for Payne the next day, but was forced to withdraw due to
Between 1993 and 2003, joint U.S./Lao/Vietnamese teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted five investigations in the area of the incident.
In 2001, Vietnamese officials turned over documents that U.S. specialists believed to be
related to Payne’s death. According to the documents, Vietnamese troops killed an American
soldier and buried him near a stream by a Vietnamese Army field hospital in Quang Tri Province,
which adjoins Salavan Province. During the investigation conducted in 2003, witnesses led the
team to the location of a former field hospital where they claimed to have buried an American
In 2004 a joint U.S./Lao team excavated the reported burial site in Salavan Province but
found no remains or evidence of a burial.
In 2004 and 2005, a Laotian source gave U.S. officials remains he found in Savannakhet
Province, Laos, which borders Salavan Province.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from
JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and
dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.