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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Sgt. Timothy J. Jacobsen, U.S. Army, of Oakland, Calif. He will be buried on Oct. 4 in Ferndale, Calif. Representatives from the Army met with Jacobsen’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.
On May 16, 1971, Jacobsen was one of four U.S. soldiers and an unknown number of Republic of Vietnam (R.V.N.) Marines who were aboard a UH-1H Iroquois helicopter. The crew was on a combat assault mission near Hue, South Vietnam when they came under heavy enemy ground fire as their aircraft touched down at the landing zone. The pilot tried to lift off, but the damaged aircraft struck a tree line and exploded. A few days later, a search and rescue team recovered the remains of some of the Vietnamese Marines, but there were remains still trapped under the helicopter wreckage. No remains for the U.S. soldiers were recovered.
In 1994, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident. The team surveyed the crash site and found wreckage consistent with a UH-1. The next year, another joint team excavated the site and recovered human remains, but they were not those of the U.S. soldiers.
In 2002, a joint team traveled to Hue and interviewed two Vietnamese citizens who showed the team two re-burial sites associated with this incident. In 2006, another team excavated the two sites and recovered human remains from one of them.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC also used dental comparisons in the identification of Jacobsen’s remains, which were recovered in 2006. The other U.S. soldiers associated with this incident are still unaccounted-for.