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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.
He is Air Force Colonel Gregg Hartness of Dallas, Tex. He is to be buried in Arlington
National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14.
On Nov. 26, 1968, Hartness and lst Lt. Allen S. Shepherd, III, took off from Da Nang air
base in South Vietnam, on a forward air control mission. While flying over Salavan Province in
Laos, their O-2A Skymaster was apparently struck by enemy fire and began to spin out of
control. Lt. Shepherd bailed out and was rescued by an Air Force search and rescue team about
nine hours later. He did not see Hartness bail out.
About 30 minutes after that rescue, the airborne team located the crash site of Hartness
and Shepherd’s aircraft about 200 meters south of the rescue pickup point. The aircraft had been
burning, but no contact with Hartness could be established. Enemy forces in the area precluded
further rescue attempts, and electronic searches of the loss location detected no signals from the
lost aircraft or pilot.
Between 1993 and 2003, joint U.S.-Lao investigators interviewed more than 60 witnesses
in 39 different settlements in Laos before selecting a site for excavation. In January and
February of 2005, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Comma nd, with assistance from the Lao
government, excavated a site in Salavan Province. They recovered human remains, aircraft
wreckage, life support equipment and personal effects.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing from all conflicts, 1,815 are from the Vietnam War,
with 372 of those within the country of Laos. Another 756 Americans have been accounted for in
Southeast Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. Of those, 197 are from losses in Laos.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.