U.S. military personnel placed a U.S. flag over a coffin yesterday during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport in Cambodia to honor remains believed to be associated with an American military service member who went missing during the Vietnam War. The remains arrived at Hickam Air Force Base yesterday for forensic analysis.
Isle lab gets remains found in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia » The remains of a U.S. serviceman who died in Cambodia more than three decades ago arrived in Hawaii for forensic analysis.
The repatriation is the latest effort by the U.S. military to account for personnel who went missing in the Southeast Asian nation during the Vietnam War.
After a brief ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday, a U.S. military transport plane carrying the remains flew to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, where the forensic identification process will begin, a U.S. Embassy statement said.
Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said the remains are believed to be those of a U.S. serviceman who died on Koh Tang, an island several miles off the coast of Cambodia's main port city of Sihanoukville. The embassy did not give further details about when the remains were found.
Eighteen U.S. Marines were killed fighting Khmer Rouge forces on Koh Tang in May 1975. Invading Marines fought for three hours trying to rescue the captured crew of the U.S. Merchant Marine vessel Mayaguez without knowing they had already been released by the Cambodian communists.
Mussomeli said cooperation with the Cambodian government has allowed the United States to send home and identify the remains of 29 missing American servicemen. Another 55 are still unaccounted for.