The authoritative source on Colorado Governor Bill Ritter brought to you by the Editors at the Cherry Creek News and Denver Community Newspapers
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
GOV. RITTER TO SEND OFF NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS AND VIETNAM WAR VETERANS WEDNESDAY MORNING
GOV. RITTER TO SEND OFF NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS AND
VIETNAM WAR VETERANS TOMORROW MORNING
Gov.Bill Ritterwill be sending off dozens of Vietnam War veterans and Colorado National Guard members at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday from Buckley Air Force Base. They will be traveling toWashingtonD.C.for a Thursday interment and remembrance ceremony atArlingtonNationalCemeteryfor Maj. Perry H. Jefferson.
Maj. Jefferson, 37, lived inDenverand was a member of the Guard's 120thFighter Squadron during the Vietnam War. He was shot down on April 3, 1969. Nearly four decades later, his remains were finally identified in November 2007. Maj. Jefferson was the last remaining MIA Colorado National Guardsman who served inVietnam.
Dozens of Vietnam War veterans who served with Maj. Jefferson -- along with Colorado National Guard Adjutant Gen. Michael Edward, Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and members of the Colorado National Guard – are flying toWashingtonfor the interment of Maj. Jefferson's remains. The 120thFighter Wing will perform a four-ship flyover during the services atArlington.
Gov. Ritter will address the veterans and Guard troops at Buckley Air Force Base inAuroraprior to their departure early Wednesday.
TIME:Media must arrive at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday (Gov. Ritter will make remarks at 7:30 a.m.)
LOCATION:Buckley Air Force Base, Mississippi Gate, commercial vehicle lane
On April 3, 1969, Jefferson was an aerial observer on board an O-1G Bird Dog aircraft on a visual reconnaissance mission over a mountainous region inNinh Thuan Province,Vietnam. The pilot of the aircraft, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Arthur G. Ecklund, radioed Phan Rang airbase to report his location, but contact was lost soon after.
An extensive, three-day search and rescue effort began, but no evidence of a crash was found. Hostile threats in the area precluded further search efforts.
In 1984, a former member of the Vietnamese Air Force turned over to aU.S.official human remains that he said represented one of twoU.S.pilots whose aircraft was shot down.
In 1994, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed two Vietnamese citizens regarding the incident. The witnesses said the aircraft crashed on a mountainside, the pilots died and were buried at the site. They said two other men were sent to the site a few days later to bury the pilots. The team excavated the crash site described by the witnesses and found aircraft wreckage. No human remains were found.
In 2000, the remains turned over in 1984 were identified as Ecklund's. In 2001, a Vietnamese national living inCaliforniaturned over toU.S.officials human remains that he said were recovered at a site where twoU.S.pilots crashed. These remains were identified in 2007 asJefferson's.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in identifyingJefferson's remains.