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Missing College Station veteran declared accounted for 50 years later

Posted at 12:47 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 13:48:11-05

COLLEGE STATION, TX — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that they have identified a member of the U.S. Air Force from College Station that went missing in 1969.

Air Force Major Neal C Ward, 23, was accounted for on July 19,2019 - 50 years after he went missing.

On June 13,1969, Ward was piloting an A-1H aircraft, as the lead in a flight of two on an armed reconnaissance mission in northern Laos. Both aircraft made four bombing runs on a target, after which Ward started a strafing run.

His wingman followed but broke off when he could not complete his run without entering the clouds. During his recovery, the wingman saw automatic weapons muzzle flashes coming from the target area, followed immediately by a large fire and explosion.

The wingman made a pass over the target area and saw debris, but was unable to identify it as aircraft wreckage. Because of hostile enemy activity, a ground search could not be conducted.

On June 20, 1978, the Department of the Air Force changed Ward’s status to deceased.

Between 1993 and 2008, Joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic teams investigated a crash site allegedly associated with Ward’s loss, recommending it for excavation. The site was excavated and teams recovered possible human remains and personal items. The remains were accessioned to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

Ward’s name is engraved 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 his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Ward will be buried in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.