Arlington National Cemetery service draws attention back to Vietnam-era MIAs
July 10, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (July 10, 2013) -- Days have transformed into months, and months have changed to years, but four decades have not blurred the specter of the Vietnam War.
Over the last 40 years, more than 900 deceased American missing in action, or MIA, service members, who were deployed to Southeast Asia, have been identified. On July 2, three former MIA Vietnam vets were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
In June, 1970, John L. Burgess of Michigan was the crew chief of a UH-1H "Huey" Iroquois helicopter that crashed in Binh Phuoc Province, South Vietnam. He and 1st Lt. Leslie F. Douglas Jr. of Mississippi, 1st Lt. Richard Dyer of Rhode Island, and Sgt. 1st Class Juan Colon-Diaz of Puerto Rico, were killed during a command and control mission.
After the crash, the bodies of Douglas, Colon-Diaz and Dyer were recovered, and the three men were identified and buried with full military honors, but at the time, Burgess remained missing in action.
The Army announced in late June that Burgess' remains had been accounted for and he would be buried, along with the remains and personal effects of two of his crew members.
The single casket representing the three Vietnam War Soldiers was accompanied to ANC's section 60 by the Army's 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own."
Representing the families were Edward Dyer, a brother of the late first lieutenant; Linda Oliver, Colon-Diaz's daughter and Richard L. Van Weezel, Burgess' son, who accepted the ceremonial American flag.
Even though 900 military members have been accounted for, more than 1,600 Vietnam vets are still considered missing in action.
Colon-Diaz was buried at Arlington in 1970, in Section 51, grave 3327.