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June 26, 2013

MIA area soldier gets full burial

SUTTONS BAY — An area man who was missing from the Vietnam war has been accounted for and will be buried with full military honors along with two of his crew members.

Army Spc. 5 John L. Burgess, 21, was crew chief of a UH-1H Iroquois helicopter that crashed in Binh Phuoc Province near the Cambodian/South Vietnam border on June 30, 1970.

Burgess was accounted for using forensic and circumstantial evidence, the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel recently announced.

Burgess’ helicopter was struck by enemy fire while on a command and control mission, causing it to crash. Also, killed were 1st Lt. Leslie F. Douglas Jr., of Verona, Miss.; lst Lt. Richard Dyer, of Central Falls, R.I.; and Sgt. 1st Class Juan Colon-Diaz, of Comerio, Puerto Rico.

The single survivor, Pfc. John Goosman, pulled the aircraft commander clear of the aircraft, but intense flames stopped him from freeing anyone else, according to the website, togetherweserved.com.

Goosman remained at the crash site until friendly troops arrived to secure the wreckage. The remains of what were believed to be four crew members were placed in four body bags, but it was later determined there were only three sets of remains. None could be attributed to Burgess. The three men were individually identified and buried with full military honors, said the DPMO press release.

The final, recovered remains of Dyer, Colon-Diaz, and Burgess will be grouped in a single casket, on July 2, and buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., said Sgt. 1st Class Sheila Sledge of the DPMO.

“This is a very interesting case,” she said. “One of the guys actually survived and is slated to be at the funeral, and another guy’s former spouse will be at the funeral.”

Burgess’ sister plans to attend the funeral, but asked not to be named or contacted, said Sledge, who also declined to say where the sister lives.

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