The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of five U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been
identified and are being returned to their families for burial. An additional seven servicemen will
be buried as a group in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
The men who were individually identified are: Cpl. Gerald E. King, of Knoxville, Tenn.;
Lance Cpls. Joseph F. Cook, of Foxboro, Mass.; Raymond T. Heyne, of Mason, Wis.; Donald
W. Mitchell, of Princeton, Ky.; and Thomas W. Fritsch, of Cromwell, Conn., all U.S. Marine
Corps. Additional group remains are those of: Pfcs. Thomas J. Blackman, of Racine, Wis.; Paul
S. Czerwonka, of Stoughton, Mass.; Barry L. Hempel, of Garden Grove, Calif.; Robert C. Lopez,
of Albuquerque, N.M.; William D. McGonigle, of Wichita, Kan.; and Lance Cpl. James R.
Sargent, of Anawalt, W. Va., all U.S. Marine Corps. Additionally, the remains of U.S. Army
Sgt Glenn E. Miller, of Oakland, Calif. will be included in the group burial.
The Marines were part of an artillery platoon airlifted to provide support to a unit under
threat of attack from North Vietnamese forces near Kham Duc in South Vietnam. On May 9,
1968, this 11th Mobile Strike Force had been directed to reconnoiter an area known as Little
Ngok Tavak Hill near the Laos-Vietnam border, in the Kham Duc Province. Their base came
under attack by North Vietnamese Army troops, and after a ten-hour battle, all of the survivors
were able to withdraw from the area.
Six investigations beginning in 1993, and a series of interviews of villagers and former
Vietnamese soldiers led the teams in 1994, 1997 and 1998 to specific defensive positions within
the large battle site. Maps provided by American survivors helped to locate some key areas on
the battlefield. Three excavations by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in 1998
and 1999 yielded human remains, personal effects, and other material evidence.
JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory specialists used
mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to help identify the remains.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,815 are from the Vietnam
War, with 1,381 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 768 Americans have been
accounted for in Southeast Asia since the end of the war. Of those, 540 are from within
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.