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Southern California Navy Pilot MIA Since Vietnam War Identified

Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson
Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson

Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson of Huntington Park, California went missing in 1967 when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in North Vietnam. In March, his remains were identified, and he will be buried with the remains of three fellow crew members at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.

Peterson was the last of the four men who perished in the SH-3A helicopter crash to be identified. The remains of fellow crew members Ensign Donald P. Frye of Los Angeles, California; Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson of Stockdale, Texas; and Donald P. McGrane of Waverly, Iowa were identified in 2009.

According to the Department of Defense:

On July 19, 1967, the four servicemen took off from the USS Hornet aboard an SH-3A Sea King helicopter, on a search and rescue mission looking for a downed pilot in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam. During the mission, an enemy concealed 37mm gun position targeted the helicopter as it flew in. The helicopter was hit by the anti-aircraft gunfire, causing the aircraft to lose control, catch fire and crash, killing all four servicemen.

In 1982, the North Vietnamese government provided the United States with five boxes containing the remains of U.S. service members. In 2009, the Joint POW/MIA Command Central Identification Laboratory concluded the remains of Frye, Jackson, and McGrane were mixed among the boxes.

In 2000, further excavation at the helicopter crash site uncovered additional human remains. The Joint POW/MIA Command identified them as belonging to Peterson on March 30, 2012.