The Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii has identified the remains of two soldiers, one from Oklahoma and one from Montana, who had been missing in Vietnam for nearly 40 years, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.
The bodies of Chief Warrant Officer Donald Wann of Shawnee, Okla., and 1st Lt. Paul Magers of Billings, Mont., were identified through DNA testing.
Wann and Magers were killed June 1, 1971, when the AH-1 Cobra helicopter they were flying as part of a rescue mission was shot down in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, the military said.
Wann’s daughter, Shannon Plaster, said she has been trying since the early 1990s to find her father, and had known since July 2008 that human remains found near the suspected crash site could include his.
Plaster, 49, said she was told of the confirmation in March, while attending a National League of POW/MIA Families conference in San Antonio.
"It was just emotional — joy, happiness and just relief," she said. "It felt like a million pounds off my chest and off my back."
She had always hoped to have his remains returned home, she said.
The Montana National Guard issued a statement on behalf of the Magerses.
"The Magers family is extremely grateful and honored by the outpouring of support and condolences from across the state and the nation in response to their loss," said Maj. Tim Crowe. "Paul was proud and honored to serve his country and chose to do so as a member of the aviation community within the United States Army. He served with great pride, dignity and honor. We welcome Paul home."
Plaster will fly to Hawaii on Sunday and serve as a special escort, accompanying her father’s remains back to Oklahoma.