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.
Air Force Maj. Dean A. Klenda, 25, of Marion, Kansas, will be buried September 17 in Pilsen, Kansas.
On September 17, 1965, Klenda was assigned to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron as the pilot of an F-105D Thunderchief that was attacking enemy targets in Son La Province, Vietnam.
During Klenda’s mission, his aircraft was struck by enemy fire causing him to eject from the Thunderchief. He failed to separate from his ejection seat before it impacted the ground. Klenda was reported as missing in action; however, a military review board later amended his status to dead, body not recovered.
Between 1993 and 1999, multiple joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams conducted investigations of the crash site. The teams identified the site that was believed to be where Klenda’s ejection seat impacted the ground. No remains were recovered at the time of the investigations.
On Nov. 10, 2011, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team re-investigated the loss in Son La Province and interviewed a Vietnamese national who claimed that in 1996 he found remains at the site where the ejection seat was believed to have impacted. The Vietnamese man told the team that he discarded the remains in an agricultural field five kilometers away from the crash site.
From Nov. 4 to Nov. 29, 2014, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team excavated the site where the Vietnamese national claimed to have discarded the remains. The recovery team located and recovered human remains.
In the identification of Klenda, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and dental comparisons, including isotopic analysis, which matched his records.
The support from the government of Vietnam was vital to the success of this.
Today there are still 1,618 American servicemen and civilians that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.