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.
He is U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Lee A. “Larry” Adams of Willits, Calif. A
memorial service with full military honors will be held at Beale AFB, Calif. on June 1, and he
will be buried in Willits at a later date.
On April 19, 1966, Adams was attacking enemy targets in Quang Binh Province, North
Vietnam when he rolled his F-105 Thunderchief in on the target. As other pilots in the flight
watched, his plane failed to pull out of the dive, crashed and exploded.
U.S. specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducted a
number of investigations as they sought information on Lt Adams’ loss. In September 1993,
joint U.S.-Vietnamese team members interviewed three villagers who said they witnessed the
shootdown in 1966. They led the team to a supposed crash site, but no aircraft debris or human
remains were found. Another informant turned over a skeletal fragment he had found near the
site of the crash.
In October 1994 another joint team interviewed two other Vietnamese citizens who
recalled the shootdown and the burial of the remains of a pilot nearby. A third team reinterviewed
four Vietnamese in 1998 who had supplied information earlier.
Then in November 2004, a joint team excavated the suspected burial and crash sites, but
found neither aircraft debris nor other material evidence. However, a villager living nearby gave
the team a fragment of a wristwatch and a signal mirror he claimed to have recovered from the
crash site. The wristwatch and mirror are consistent with items issued to, or used by, U.S.
military aviators in the mid-1960s.
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 Adams.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,833 are from the Vietnam
War, with 1,397 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 750 Americans have been
accounted for in Southeast Asia since the end of the war. Of the Americans identified, 524 are
from within Vietnam.
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.