The remains of three soldiers who died when their Special Forces reconnaissance patrol was ambushed during the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial, the Defense Department said Monday.
Army Sgt. 1st Class William Brown of La Habra, Calif., Sgt. 1st Class Donald Shue of Kannapolis, N.C., and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther Wald of Palisades Park, N.J., will be buried with full military honors in a single casket Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a DOD statement. Brown and Shue initially were buried individually Sept. 26, 2011, and May 1, 2012, at Arlington and Kannapolis, N.C., respectively.
Brown, Shue, Wald and six Vietnamese soldiers were operating in Quang Tri Province, near the Vietnam-Laos border, on Nov. 3, 1969, when they were ambushed, the statement said. All three Americans were wounded.
Due to poor weather and a heavy enemy presence, a search-and-rescue team was unable to reach the site for eight days. The team then found only military equipment belonging to Shue.
Between 1993 and 2010, joint U.S./Vietnamese teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, went to Quang Tri nine times to conduct interviews, including with former militiamen who claimed to have ambushed three Americans in the area in 1969, the statement said.
In 2007, a Vietnamese citizen led the teams to human remains that he discovered buried near the ambush site. Three years later, joint teams excavated a hilltop area near Huong Lap Village, recovering additional human remains, military equipment and personal effects.
Scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched family members, as well as circumstantial and material evidence to identify the remains.