ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — A Vietnam War soldier missing since his helicopter was shot down in 1970, was identified and laid to rest Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Dozens of family members gathered in Section 60 to watch a horse drawn caisson deliver the remains of Army Spc. John L. Burgess in a casket draped with the American flag.
Burgess of Sutton Bay, Mich., was buried in a single casket along with the remains representing two members of his crew whose partial remains had been previously recovered, 1st Lt. Richard Dyer of Central Falls, R.I., and Sgt. 1st Class Juan Colon-Diaz of Comerio, Puerto Rico.
They were among five soldiers aboard a helicopter that crashed near the Cambodian border in June 30, 1970. Burgess was the crew chief during that "command and control" mission in South Vietnam. Only one soldier survived.
After the crash, the military recovered and returned the partial remains of three of the soldiers killed to their respective families. Burgess' family never received remains, as none were identified.
According to records by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, a more thorough search of the site was requested, but never conducted because of enemy presence in the area.
For 20 years, more than a dozen joint U.S./ Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams investigated the crash. They recovered human remains, personal effects, and aircraft wreckage and were able to account for Burgess using "forensic and circumstantial evidence."
Richard L. Van Weezle, the son of specialist Burgess was at the ceremony to receive his father's flag. Just before the American flag was folded, three rifle volleys were fired and a bugler played taps to a sun peeking out between the clouds, marking a burial with full military honors.
Until last week, Burgess was one of 807 Vietnam-era Americans unaccounted for in South Vietnam.