A Spartanburg soldier who was missing in the Vietnam War has been identified and will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery today.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced late Thursday 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.
Spc. Thomas Rice, Jr. of Spartanburg will have an individual burial at Arlington. A group burial will also be conducted with the remains of his fellow servicemen. They are: Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth L. Stancil, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer Jesse D. Phelps, Boise, Idaho; and Spc. Donald C. Grella, Laurel, Nebraska.
According to a DOD release, the four men were aboard a UH-1D Huey helicopter that never returned 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. Between the years 1993 to 2005, special teams could not locate the crash site.
The DOD reports:
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.