Remains Identified as NBC Newsman Believed Executed in Cambodia in 1970
NEW YORK (AP) _ Human remains dug up in Cambodia last year have been identified as those of an American NBC correspondent who disappeared 23 years ago while covering the war in Southeast Asia, an NBC official said Saturday.
Welles Hangen’s remains were positively identified Friday night by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu, said Arthur Lord, a senior producer for NBC News in Burbank, Calif.
Hangen was one of five television journalists believed executed by the Khmer Rouge following their disappearance in the Cambodian jungle on May 31, 1970. He was 40.
His body was one of four dug up from a riverbed during a U.S.-Cambodian excavation last March. The other three were identified last October, but Hangen’s medical records were unavailable and positive identification was delayed pending a DNA blood test.
The remains identified earlier were those of NBC News soundman Yoshihiko Waku and cameraman Roger Colne and CBS News soundman Kojiro Saki. Waku and Saki were from Japan and Colne from France.
The body of CBS cameraman Tomoharu Ishii of Japan was never recovered.
The five had been driving along a highway covering a battle when one vehicle was hit by a grenade that killed three other CBS journalists.
The Khmer Rouge marched the five into the jungle 25 miles south of Phnom Penh. They were never heard from again. When excavated from a riverbed in a rice field, two were found with their hands tied behind their backs, a U.S. official said last year.
Hangen’s remains will be cremated and buried at Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery on Jan. 29.
″He was a foreign correspondent when I was just coming up in the organization, and he was a guy I looked up to,″ said Lord. ″He was an extremely erudite, good, solid reporter, and intrepid - a Renaissance man in a trenchcoat, if you will.″
Hangen’s wife, Pat, said Saturday that she had still held a slim hope her husband would be found alive.
″One would rather continue to hope, but it is important to have finality,″ she said from Alameda, Calif.
″I had high hopes until last year,″ she said. ″Even though the probability diminished (of him being found alive), there was still a possibility.″
She wrote and published a book about her life with the NBC and former New York Times correspondent, and his disappearance, entitled ″Tell Him That I Heard.″
Fifteen foreign journalists still are listed as missing from the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, all of which ended in Communist victories in 1975. Lord, who pursued the fate of the NBC and CBS journalists for years, said too little is known about the other disappearances to pursue them.