A Fallen Flyer Comes Home
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced
this week the remains of a US airman, missing in action from the
Vietnam War, have been identified and will soon be returned to his
family for burial with full military honors. He is 1st Lt. James L.
Hull, US Air Force, of Lubbock, TX.
Hull will be buried November 13 at Arlington National Cemetery
near Washington, DC.
On February 19, 1971, Hull and a fellow crew member were flying
a mission near the Laos/Vietnam border when their O-2A Skymaster
crashed. Both men died, but Hull's body was buried in the wreckage
and could not be recovered because of hostile enemy action.
Between 1993 and 1997, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
(JPAC) led three investigations with US and Socialist Republic of
Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, and one trilateral investigation with a Lao
People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team. During the first
investigation, the team interviewed a Vietnamese citizen who
produced human remains and an identification tag for Hull that he
claimed to have recovered from a crash site located just inside
Laos. The joint team was not allowed to cross the border, and the
investigation was suspended.
The Vietnamese turned over the bone fragment to US officials,
but the ID tag's whereabouts are still unknown.
Additional investigations yielded some information concerning a
crash site located just inside the Laotian border. The S.R.V.
allowed a Vietnamese national to walk to the purported crash site
and collect a fragment of the wreckage. Based on the location, type
of aircraft and retrieved wreckage, analysts determined it was
Hull's crash site.
In May 2006, a joint US and L.P.D.R. team excavated the site
where they recovered additional evidence and human remains.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial
evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA
Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA from a known
maternal relative in the identification of the remains.