Missing Airmen’s Remains Identified

Defense Department forensic scientists identified the remains of two airmen who had been missing in action since their F-4D Phantom II aircraft crashed during the Vietnam War, announced Pentagon officials on Oct. 16. Col. Wendell Keller of Fargo, N.D., and Capt. Virgil K. Meroney III of Fayetteville, Ark., will be buried with full military honors as a group—in a single casket representing the Phantom’s aircrew—on Oct. 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, according to DOD’s release. Meroney was interred individually on June 9 in his hometown, states the release. Enemy fire reportedly brought down Keller and Meroney’s F-4D during a nighttime strike mission in Khammouan Province, Laos, on March 1, 1969. Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts. Between 1994 and 2011, joint US-Lao teams conducted several investigations and excavations of the crash site, recovering human remains, military equipment, a military identification card, and aircraft wreckage, that, along with more than 40 eyewitnesses accounts, led to the identification of these airmen.