Advances in DNA technology led to the identification of an Army helicopter crew member whose chopper went down in South Vietnam in 1970, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
Chief Warrant Officer George A. Howes of Knox, Ind., will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced.
On Jan. 10, 1970, Howes and three other aircrew members were returning to their base at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, aboard a UH-1C Huey helicopter.
Because of bad weather, their helicopter went down over Quang Nam province. A search was initiated for the crew, but no sign of the helicopter or crew was found.
In 1989, Vietnam gave to U.S. specialists 25 boxes that reportedly contained the remains of U.S. servicemen related to the incident.
Between 1993 and 1999, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command headquartered in Hawaii, conducted three investigations in Ho Chi Minh City and two investigations in Quang Nam-Da Nang province (formerly Quang Nam province).
A Vietnamese citizen in Ho Chi Minh City turned over a military identification tag bearing Howes’ name and told the team he knew where the remains of as many as nine American servicemen were buried, officials said.
The man agreed to lead the team to the burial site. In 1994 the team excavated the site and recovered a metal box and several bags containing human remains.
In 2006 the remains of three of the four men were identified and buried. No remains could be attributed to Howes given the technology of the time, military officials said.
Two years later, with advances in DNA technology, the remains were analyzed again.
Scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Howes’ sister and brother, officials said.