Remains Identified - June 7, 2011

Name: Darrell John Spinler
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: (unknown)
Date of Birth: 16 June 1938
Home City of Record: Browns Valley MN
Date of Loss: 21 June 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 152957N 1063958E (XC787141)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1E
Refno: 0738
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance
of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency
sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2011.


SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable,
propeller-driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or
utility aircraft. The H and J models were single seat aircraft, whereas the
E model carried two crewmen. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its
Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in
counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used the aircraft
as escort for rescue units.

The general procedure for a rescue escort entailed two A1 aircraft flying
directly to the search area to look for sign of the downed crewmen while two
other A1s escorted the rescue helicopter to the area. If it was necessary,
the A1s would attack enemy in the area with bombs, rockets and cannon fire
so that the helicopter could land.

On June 21, 1967, Capt. Darrell J. Spinler was flying an A1E on a strike
mission near the eastern rim of the Plateau des Blovens in Laos. He was the
lead aircraft in a flight of two. As Spinler's aircraft was recovering from
a napalm pass over the target, it was struck by enemy fire. The wingman
observed Spinler's aircraft go into a spin and crash.

Spinler was thought to have been killed in the crash of his aircraft. If
there was a second crewman on board, his name is not part of public record
available on this loss. The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the
Spinler's status to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2
indicates "suspect knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been
involved in loss incidents with individuals reported in Category 1
(confirmed knowledge), or who were lost in areas or under conditions that
they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected
with an incident which was discussed but not identified by names in enemy
news media; or identified (by elimination, but not 100% positively) through
analysis of all-source intelligence.

Spinler became one of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos during
the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held "tens
of tens" of American prisoners, they stated that those captured in Laos
would be released in Laos, hoping to gain a seat at the negotiating table in
Paris where the U.S. and Vietnam were negotiating an end to the war. The
U.S. did not include Laos in the Paris Peace Accords, and no American held
in Laos was ever released. In America's haste to leave Southeast Asia, it
abandoned some of its finest men.

In seeming disregard for the Americans either held or having been murdered
by the Pathet Lao, by 1989 the U.S. and the Lao had devised a working plan
to provide Laos with humanitarian and economic aid leading toward ultimate
full diplomatic and trade relations while Laos allows the excavation of
military crash sites at sporadic intervals. In America's haste to return to
Southeast Asia, we are again abandoning our men.


June 07, 2011

Missing Vietnam War Airman Identified

            The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. 

            Air Force Capt. Darrell J. Spinler of Browns Valley, Minn., will be buried on June 18 near his hometown.  On June 21, 1967, Spinler was aboard an A-1E Skyraider aircraft attacking enemy targets along the Xekong River in Laos when villagers reported hearing an explosion before his aircraft crashed.  The pilot of another A-1E remained in the area for more than two hours but saw no sign of Spinler.

            In 1993, a joint U.S.-Laos People's Democratic Republic team, led by Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed villagers who witnessed the crash.  They claimed Spinler's body was on the river bank after the crash but likely washed away during the ensuing rainy season.  The team surveyed the location and found wreckage consistent with Spinler's aircraft.

            In 1995, the U.S. government evaluated Spinler's case and determined his remains unrecoverable based on witness statements and available evidence.  Teams working in the area revisited the location in 1999 and 2003 and confirmed Spinler's remains had likely been carried away by the Xekong River.  However, in 2010, JPAC conducted a full excavation of the location and recovered aircraft wreckage, human remains, crew-related equipment and personal effects.

            Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental x-rays in the identification of Spinler's remains.

            With the accounting of this airman, 1,689 service members still remain missing from the conflict.

            For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1420 or visit the DPMO Website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo .


From: "Bill Miller"
To: <info@pownetwork.org>
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2011 18:23:49 -0600

SPINLER, DARRELL JOHN found and recovered for a special memorial ceremony with full military honors in his hometown.

Video made for them by Phil Lauter.  It's a nice tribute, but it isnít short. It will be the centerpiece for his service.