Missing Airmen’s Remains Identified

Defense Department forensic scientists have identified the remains of six airmen who had been missing in action since the Vietnam War. They are: Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y.; Col. Derrell B. Jeffords of Florence, S.C.; Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; CMSgt. William K. Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y.; CMSgt. Arden K. Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore.; and CMSgt. Larry C. Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The airmen’s remains are being returned to their families; these airmen will receive a burial with full military honors—as a group in a single casket representing the entire crew—on July 9 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., according to the Pentagon’s July 5 release. These airmen were the crew of an AC-47D Spooky gunship that did not return from a combat mission in southern Laos on Dec. 24, 1965. Between 1995 and 2011, joint US-Lao forensic teams recovered aircraft wreckage and human remains at the crash site discovered in Savannakhet province, Laos, that enabled the airmen’s identification.