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Army Lab IDs Remains Of Two Fliers Downed In Laos In 1972

July 9, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Army laboratory has identified the remains of two Air Force fliers whose plane crashed on March 29, 1972, near Savannakhet in Laos, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

So far, the Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii has identified eight of the 14 crewmembers of the AC-130 gunship, the announcement said.

The most recent remains were those of Air Force Capt. Charles J. Wanzel III, born July 31, 1947, of New York, and Chief Master Sgt. Edwin J. Pearce, born Dec. 8, 1947, of Milford, Pa., it said.

Their remains were recovered between Feb. 17 and March 1 last year in a joint excavation by representatives of the United States and Laos, one of the Indochinese nations taken over by communist forces in the 1970′s.

No arrangements have been made to return the remains to the continental United States, the announcement said. In the past, recovered remains have been transported to California following a full military honors ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

″With these remains, the number of Americans still feared missing or otherwise accounted for in Indochina is 2,413,″ said Pentagon spokesman Robert Sims. Of that total, 1,776 are missing in Vietnam; 549 in Laos; 82 in Cambodia, and six in China.

″The U.S. government appreciates the cooperation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic that permitted the recovery of these remains and hopes it represents just one of many continued steps to resolve this long-standing humanitarian issue,″ the announcement said.

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