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Alabama Marine killed in Vietnam helicopter crash to be buried at Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery, Va., on May 23, 2014. (SSG Sean K. Harp/Department of Defense)

The remains of an Alabama serviceman killed more than 50 years ago in Vietnam will be buried this week at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marine Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels Jr. of Birmingham was killed June 30, 1967 when the helicopter he was on crashed after being hit by enemy fire over Vietnam. He was 21 at the time of his death.

Runnels was one of five servicemen killed in the crash. Remains of two of the men, Marine Lance Cpl. Merlin R. Allen, 20, of Madison, Wisconsin, and Navy Hospital Corpsman Michael B. Judd, 21, of Cleveland, Ohio, were identified in 2013. The remains of Runnels, along with are Capt. John A. House, II, 28, of Pelham, New York and Lance Cpl. John D. Killen, III, 18, of Davenport, Iowa, were identified in 2015.

Runnels, House and Killen will be buried as a group with full military honors on Sept. 27, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Search and recovery

On June 30, 1967, House was the pilot of a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter who, along with three other crew members, was attempting to insert eight members of Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, into hostile territory in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam.

The helicopter was struck by enemy fire as it approached the landing zone, causing the aircraft to catch fire and crash. Five U.S. personnel were killed; seven survived and were later rescued.

In 1993, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam team investigated the case in Thua Thein-Hue Province. The team interviewed local villagers who claimed to have discovered an aircraft crash site in 1991 in the nearby forest while searching for wood. The team surveyed the location, finding helicopter-related wreckage with no distinguishing markings.

In 2012, the joint recovery teams excavated the crash site and recovered human remains as well as life support equipment and aircraft wreckage from the CH-46A helicopter. Other recovery efforts in 2013 and 2014 failed to yield any additional human remains, DPAA said.

The remains were later identified through mitochondrial DNA and dental analysis.

According to the DPAA, there are 1,594 American servicemen and civilians still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

House’s, Killen’s and Runnels’ names are recorded on the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to their names to indicate they have been accounted for.


© 2018 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

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