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Old 04-08-2010, 17:01   #1
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four servicemen MIA from Vietnam War identified and returned to their families

Welcome home

May your families be consoled by your return to US soil.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132 Public contact:
or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1


April 08, 2010


U.S. Soldiers MIA from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

A group burial for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth L. Stancil, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer Jesse D. Phelps, Boise, Idaho; Spc. Thomas Rice, Jr., Spartanburg, S.C.; and Spc. Donald C. Grella, Laurel, Neb., as well as Rice’s individual remains burial will be tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery. Stancil, Phelps and Grella were buried individually last year.

The four men were aboard a UH-1D Huey helicopter which failed to return from a mission over Gia Lai Province, South Vietnam to pick up special forces soldiers on Dec. 28, 1965. The exact location of the crash site was not determined during the war, and search and rescue operations were suspended after failing to locate the men after four days.

From 1993-2005, joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command attempted unsuccessfully to locate the site. But in April 2006, a joint team interviewed two local villagers, one of whom said he had shot down a U.S. helicopter in 1965. The villagers escorted the team to the crash site where wreckage was found. In March 2009, another joint team excavated the area and recovered human remains and other artifacts including an identification tag from Grella.

JPAC’s scientists employed traditional forensic techniques in making these identifications, including comparisons of dental records with the remains found at the site.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.
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Old 04-08-2010, 17:13   #2
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God Bless,Rest in Peace Warriors...........

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Old 04-08-2010, 17:45   #3
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Welcome home gentlemen, you have been missed!
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Old 04-08-2010, 17:56   #4
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Welcome home men...

Rest well...
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Old 04-08-2010, 18:16   #5
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Welcome home, warriors and may you all rest in peace. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. You will always be missed and NEVER forgotten.

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Old 04-08-2010, 18:41   #6
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Welcome Home.... You have been missed...
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Old 04-08-2010, 20:52   #7
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Old 04-08-2010, 21:55   #8
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Thank you for your courage, dedication and sacrifices. Welcome home. Rest in peace.
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:12   #9
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Well done thou good and faithful servants. You were not forgotten.
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Old 04-09-2010, 07:33   #10
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Welcome Home....We missed you and thought of you, but bless the families, loved ones, and friends who missed you more than we will know. Your sacrifice will always be remembered.
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Old 04-09-2010, 08:59   #11
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May their families finally find the peace that those men went to war to assure.
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:42   #12
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Welcome home warriors. RIP

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Old 04-09-2010, 09:45   #13
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Welcome home. May you all rest in peace.
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Old 04-09-2010, 13:50   #14
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Welcome home, BROTHERS!
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Old 04-09-2010, 14:08   #15
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Notice who their Platoon Leader was - CPT Ed 'Too Tall' Freeman of Ia Drang fame and CMH recipient.


A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Association database contains the following statement from Captain Ed Freeman, the platoon leader for this flight:

"On Dec. 27th, CWO Phelps was selected to fly from a base camp near Qui Nhon, about 20 miles north of An Khe, to the "golf course" at An Khe. The reason he was selected was because he was the most qualified to fly by instrumentation. The crew stayed the night at An Khe, so they could get a good night's rest and clean up. The next morning they departed from An Khe with a cargo of machine guns and hot food for the troops at the base camp near Qui Nhon. They radioed ahead to the forward camp that they were in the air and on the way. There was no contact after that. Within a short time of being overdue a search was ordered of a grid area that was determined to be where they could have run out of fuel, in all directions. The search went on by air for a period of 3 days. There was one spot that appeared to have had disturbance in the trees and a Chinook helicopter was brought in and troops did rappel into the area. They didn't find anything. A ground search was conducted in various areas, but some areas were not accessible, due to the jungle and swamp conditions."

UH-1D tail number 63-08808 of A Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion departed An Khe shortly before dawn on 28 December 1965. The planned flight route passed over mountainous terrain in the vicinity of the An Khe Pass.

The flight crew consisted of:
  • CW2 Kenneth Leon Stancil, pilot
  • CW2 Jesse Donald Phelps, copilot
  • SP5 Donald C. Grella, crew chief
  • SP4 Thomas Rice, Jr, gunner
About ten minutes after the 0555 take-off, CW2 Stancil contacted the A Company forward operating base to obtain current weather information. That was the last contact with the aircraft.

The aircraft was declared down at 0715 and search-and-rescue operations began at 0730. No trace of the aircraft or its crew was found. The four crewmen were declared to be Missing in Action.

During the first annual review of this incident, the Review Board concluded that all available evidence indicated that the four men had died in the crash of their helicopter and their status was changed on 29 Dec 1966 to "Died While Missing/Body not Recovered". The crash site has not been located and the remains of the four crewmen have not been repatriated.

With the exception of WO Phelps, the men were previously assigned to the Aviation Company of the 7th Special Forces Group, which was then attached to the 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division; WO Phelps was from the 5th Special Forces Group and similary attached. "A" Company, 229th Avn Bn (C/S - HACKSAW) was formed using personnel and equipment assets from these attachments.
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