Remains of MIA pilot from Vietnam War on way home for Arlington interment
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The remains of an Air Force pilot missing for 45 years since his plane was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War finally are headed home.
Department of Defense officials said the remains of Lt. Col. Robert E. Pietsch, of Pittsburgh, will be interred on Oct. 16 in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. A Defense Department spokeswoman said the family asked for privacy.
Pietsch, 31, and his navigator, Maj. Louis F. Guillermin, 25, of West Chester, Pa., were on an armed-reconnaissance mission on April 30, 1968, when their A-26A Invader crashed in Savannakhet Province in Laos.
Witnesses reported an explosion after the plane went down, but did not see any signs of survivors, according to the Defense Department.
Guillermin and Pietsch were listed as missing in action after an unsuccessful search-and-rescue mission.
Until recently, they were among the more than 1,640 American servicemembers still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
Their recovery was part of an effort that took more than a decade.
In 1994, a team from the United States and the Laos People's Democratic Republic — led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command — surveyed the crash site but were thwarted by the presence of explosives, the Defense Department said.
In 2006, the team returned with experts who cleared the area. They collected additional remains, personal effects and equipment.
Scientists identified the remains using a combination of DNA and circumstantial forensics analysis.
Remains specifically identified as those of Guillermin were buried on Oct. 5 during a ceremony in eastern Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, the men's remains will be buried in a single casket at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.