The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) 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.
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Donald W. Bruch, Jr., 24, of Montclair, New Jersey, will be buried May 29 in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania. On April 29, 1966, Bruch was assigned to the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, as a pilot of an F-105D aircraft. Bruch was flying en route to attack a target north of Hanoi, Vietnam, when his aircraft was struck by enemy anti-aircraft artillery. Witnesses saw Bruch’s aircraft impact the ground, and no ejection or parachute was noted. Bruch was declared missing in action after the crash. On May 4, 1966, a military review board amended his status to deceased.
After numerous joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) investigations dating back to 1988, excavation of a crash site believed to be Bruch’s began during a joint U.S./S.R.V. mission in October and November 2011, finding some human remains and material evidence. Subsequent recovery missions were necessary in October and November 2012, and November and December 2013, to complete the excavation of this difficult crash site and a burial site.
To identify Bruch’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his sister, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
The support from the government of Vietnam was vital to the success of these recovery missions.
Today there are 1,620 Americans that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.