The remains of a Phoenix airman were found in Vietnam and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors, the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office said Thursday.
Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper Jr. was flying in a four-ship combat patrol near Hanoi on Jan. 10, 1968, when his F-4D Phantom was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Hopper’s co-pilot, Capt. Keith Hall, said he told Hopper to eject, but Hopper’s ejection seat wouldn’t release.
Hall was captured and held until 1973, but Hopper was unable to escape the aircraft.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducted three investigations and five excavations at the crash site, west of Hanoi, between 1993 and 1998. They interviewed four people who knew about the site, and recovered skeletal fragments and other flight equipment that were used to make a forensic identification.
Hopper was buried Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.