US and Vietnamese officials gathered today at the Pentagon to remember 16 servicemen who were killed 20 years ago while searching for the remains of US troops lost in the Vietnam War.
Seven U.S. officials and nine Vietnamese were lost when a Mi-7 helicopter crashed into a mountain in Quang Binh province. The combined team was looking for sites that might contain the remains of killed and unrecovered Americans.
Twenty years to the day, officials from both countries have remembered the shared sacrifice during a ceremony in the POW / MIA corridor of the Pentagon. “Today, we come together to pay tribute to our teammates – three soldiers, three airmen, one sailor – whose lives were tragically lost on this day 20 years ago, as they themselves acquitted themselves. of a sacred obligation towards their comrades fallen more than three decades before. Said Kelly McKeague, the director of the Defense POW / MIA accounting agency and host of the ceremony. “This is a painful chapter in our history, but one that we must always remember. These men made the ultimate sacrifice, striving to find fellow Americans they had never met, who themselves- same made the last full measure of devotion. These seven men also struggled. to bring long-sought answers to families. And in doing so, they left their own families with questions. “
The ceremony also recalled the nine Vietnamese who died in the crash. McKeague called them “partners in a noble cause”.
“The devastating crash and loss of life could have tested the courage of the two nations to continue to search for American MIAs, but instead they strengthened the resolve of both nations,” McKeague said. “Finding, recovering and identifying our unreturned veterans has made serious progress.”
Even though American teams were unable to deploy last year due to COVID-19, three Vietnamese teams trained in the United States conducted nine searches. Today, four American and two Vietnamese teams are carrying out the mission, McKeague said.
“Everyone carries the pain of a lasting loss, and that loss, no matter what we say, can never be filled with words or ceremonies, and they – the families – will be remembered for their reasons for being.” dear served, and the cause they sacrificed, ”said Army General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and friend of one of the officers lost in the crash . “It is also our responsibility – the responsibility of the living – to remember the cause for which they died.”
Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States Ha Kim Ngoc said the partnership with the United States to locate and recover the remains of the American military had done much to address the distrust that nations felt in each other after the fall of Saigon in 1975. “The path to building the comprehensive Vietnam-US partnership out of a bitter past – working together to deal with the legacies of war – has helped build trust between the two nations,” the ambassador said. “Among other efforts, the two countries have tried to give as full an account as possible of the US military and Vietnamese soldiers. After all, we cannot have achieved tangible results without the determination on both sides to put the past behind and look to the future. “
The Americans killed were Army Lt. Col. Rennie M. Cory, Jr .; Army Lt. Col. George D. Martin III, Air Force Maj. Charles E. Lewis, Army Sgt. 1st Class Tommy J. Murphy, Air Force MSgt. Steven L. Moser, TSgt. Robert M. Flynn and Navy Chief Petty Officer Pedro J. Gonzalez.
The Vietnamese killed were: Mr. Nguyen Than Ha, Senior Colonel Tran Van Bien, Lieutenant Col. Nguyen Van Ha, Lieutenant Col. Nguyen Thanh Son, Maj. Nguyen Huu Nham, Maj. Vu Pham le Kien, Lt. Giap Thanh Ngan, Lt. Pham Duy Dung and Lt. Dang Ngoc.
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