MIA Update

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of nine Americans who had been missing in action from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

— Army Sgt. James W. Sharp, 24, of Mannington, W.Va., was buried June 29 in Grafton, W.Va. Sharp was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team,7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Sharp was among more than 1,000 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory and was declared missing on Dec. 6, 1950. Read about Sharp.

— Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Byron H. Nelson, 28, of Primghar, Iowa, will be buried July 1 in his hometown. Nelson was a nose gunner aboard an American B-24G Liberator bomber with the 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. During a bombing run near Varese, Italy, on April 25, 1944, Nelson’s aircraft and two others were separated from the formation due to dense clouds and later attacked by German fighters. Of the 10 crewmen, six parachuted from the aircraft and escaped capture, two parachuted and were captured by German forces, and two perished in the crash. Nelson was reported to be one of the two who perished. Read about Nelson.

Navy Reserve Lt. William Q. Punnell was the acting commanding officer of the VF-14 Fighter Squadron, operating from the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. On July 25, 1944, Punnell flew his F6F-3 “Hellcat” with several other aircraft on a strafing mission against Japanese targets on the islands of the Republic of Palau. Punnell was in the lead position when the tail of his aircraft took a direct hit from antiaircraft fire. His fellow pilots witnessed his plane crash into water and immediately sink; no bailout was reported. Interment services are pending.  Read about Punnell.

— Army Cpl. Thomas H. Mullins was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In November 1950, his unit engaged with Chinese forces near Unsan, North Korea. Approximately 600 men were killed, captured or missing. Mullins was declared missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950. He was later reported to have died while being held in POW Camp 5, Pyokdong, North Korea. Interment services are pending. Read about Mullins.

— Army Pfc. Charlie H. Hill was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Hill was among more than 1,000 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory and was declared missing on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read about Hill.

— Army Master Sgt. George R. Housekeeper, Jr., was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Housekeeper was among more than 1,000 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory and was declared missing on Dec. 12, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read about Housekeeper.  

— Army Cpl. Clarence R. Skates was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Positioned between the towns of Kunu-ri and Sunchon, Skates’ regiment was attacked by Chinese forces and suffered many casualties. Skates was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read about Skates.

— Air Force Col. Roosevelt Hestle, Jr., was a pilot assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Squadron. On July 6, 1966, Hestle led a flight of four F-105s on a strike mission against surface-to-air missile sites in northern Vietnam. As they approached the target, Hestle issued a missile launch warning, and all aircraft began evasive action. Hestle’s maneuvers took him close to the ground near the town of Thai Ngyuen, where the plane came under antiaircraft fire. Another aircraft then reported a large ball of fire rising from the ground in the area. Due to hostile conditions in the area, search and rescue attempts could not be initiated and an aerial search of the area produced no results. Based on this information, Hestle was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending. Read about Hestle.

Air Force Capt. Robert E. Holton was an F-4D pilot assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron. On Jan. 29, 1969, Holton flew an armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos. The flight lead cleared Holton to engage a target, and ordnance was seen impacting the ground. Aircrews reported seeing a large fireball on the ground in the vicinity of the target immediately thereafter. No radio transmissions were received, and no parachutes were seen. Efforts to make contact with the crew continued until the remaining planes were forced to leave the area due to low fuel. Holton was subsequently declared missing in action. Interment services are scheduled for later this summer. Read about Holton.

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