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Remains of soldier missing since Vietnam War returned to family

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The remains of a soldier who died when his plane crashed in Laos during the Vietnam War have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial.

Army Capt. James Johnstone, of Baton Rouge, La., will be buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, according to a Defense Department statement.

Johnstone’s OV-1A Mohawk aircraft crashed on Nov. 19, 1966, during a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos, the statement said. Nearby U.S. aircrews reported seeing the wing of Johnstone’s aircraft clip a tree during a climb to avoid a nearby ridgeline.

No parachutes were seen, the statement said. Recovery efforts were prevented by a heavy enemy presence in the area.

Between 1993 and 2009, joint U.S.-Laos teams interviewed witnesses, conducted investigations and excavated the crash site in Attapu, the release said. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command-led teams located human remains, military equipment, an identification card bearing Johnstone’s name, and aircraft wreckage of an OV-1A.

Scientists from JPAC used forensic identification tools, including dental comparisons and circumstantial evidence, to identify the soldier.

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