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12-02-02, 02:03 PM
Subject: Vietnam War MIA Identified

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 607-02
December 2, 2002

The remains of an Air Force servicemen previously unaccounted
for from the war in Vietnam have been identified and are to be
buried today in Rusk, Texas.

He is Capt. Francis W. Townsend, of Rusk.

On August 13, 1972, Townsend and his pilot were flying
their RF-4C Phantom on a photo-reconnaissance mission over Quang
Tri Province, North Vietnam. The aircraft was struck by enemy
fire, and the pilot was unable to maintain control. He ordered
Townsend to eject. Seconds later, the pilot ejected from the
burning aircraft and was able to establish radio contact with
rescue forces. Unfortunately, he was captured before a rescue
could be made.

Following the release of U.S. POWs in 1973, the pilot
stated he learned in captivity that Capt. Townsend had perished
in the crash though he initially believed he had ejected.

Between 1999 and 1997, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams,
led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, conducted four
investigations in the area where Townsend's plane had crashed.
They interviewed dozens of villagers, including one who claimed
to have buried some remains near a flooded crash crater in the
area. He also stated that he had found two military ID tags at
the crash site. During one of the investigations, the team
members were shown the tag of Capt. Townsend by a local

In July 1998 and May 1999, two full-scale excavations
were carried out in Quang Tri Province, where team members of
the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI)
recovered aircraft wreckage, personal crew member artifacts, and
human remains. Mitochondrial DNA was extracted from one of the
fragments, and was found by CILHI to match the DNA of two of
Capt. Townsend's maternal relatives.

Approximately 1,900 American servicemen remain missing
in action from the Vietnam War, while the remains of nearly 700
have been located, identified and returned to their families
since the end of the war.