Four of Our Brethren, Downed in A "Jolly Green Giant" Crash,
Have Been Found
The remains of four
servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been
identified and are being returned to their families for burial with
full military honors.
They are U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jack C. Rittichier, Barberton,
Ohio; U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard C. Yeend, Jr., Mobile, Ala.;
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Elmer L. Holden, Oklahoma City and U.S.
Air Force Sgt. James D. Locker, Sidney, Ohio. Rittichier, on a
pilot exchange program with the U.S. Air Force, was the only Coast
Guardsman missing in action from the Vietnam War.
On June 9, 1968, Rittichier and Yeend were pilot and co-pilot,
respectively, of an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter that
departed Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, on a search and rescue
mission for a downed U.S. pilot.
At the rescue site, Rittichier reported his aircraft had been
struck by enemy fire. Before he could safely land, his aircraft
stalled and exploded in a massive fireball. There were no
From 1989 through 1992, U.S. officials received information
about the crash site from various Southeast Asian sources,
including refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. The reports
suggested that some of the individuals may have seen or had access
to materials collected from the crash site. Throughout the 1990s
joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams led by the Joint Task Force-Full
Accounting investigated the crash at many locations in Vietnam, all
with negative results.
But in May 2002 a joint team operating in Laos received
information about the crash of a large helicopter at a site near
Ban Kaboui, Laos, about 15 kilometers from the reported wartime
loss location. In late 2002, another team surveyed the suspected
site and uncovered wreckage and crew-related items that correlated
to a Jolly Green Giant helicopter. Then in January and February
2003, the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii
(CILHI), conducted an excavation where human remains were recovered
and later identified by CILHI as those of the crew.
Approximately 1,800 Americans are unaccounted-for from the
Vietnam War, with 88,000 missing from all conflicts. Achieving the
fullest possible accounting of Americans missing in action is a top
Welcome home gentlemen. Your countrymen appreciate your