The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced
today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been
identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Navy Lieutenant Commander J. Forrest G. Trembley of Spokane, Wash., will be buried
in Arlington National Cemetery on April 1.
On August 21, 1967, Trembley and his fellow crewman took off in their A-6A Intruder
from the U.S.S. Constellation on a strike mission against the Duc Noi rail yards near Hanoi,
North Vietnam. On leaving the target area, their aircraft and another one in the flight were
attacked by enemy MiGs. When last seen, the two aircraft were disappearing into the clouds
near the Vietnamese-Chinese border. The last radio message from Trembley indicated the MiGs
were in hot pursuit, but no further communications were heard.
Later that day, the Chinese government reported that two U.S. A-6s had been shot down
over the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The broadcast noted that one of the four crewmen
had been captured but the other three died in the shoot down. The surviving crewman was
released by the Chinese in March 1973.
With the assistance of the Chinese government, a joint U.S.-PRC team interviewed
witnesses to the shootdown and crash in 1993 and 1999. U.S. specialists from the Joint
POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a Chinese citizen near the crash site. He
turned over Trembley’s identification tag and fragmentary human remains alleged to be those of
American pilots. The team recovered some pilot’s gear from a burial site, but found no
additional human remains.
Scientists of the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used
mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to identify the remains as those of Trembley.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam
War, with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 747 Americans have been
accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.
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.