HOLMES, LESTER EVAN
Remains Returned, ID announced May 18, 2004
Name: Lester Evan Holmes
Branch/Rank: United States Air Force/O5
Unit:
Date of Birth: 24 July 1919
Home City of Record: PLAINFIELD IA
Date of Loss: 22 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170500 North  1065000 East
Status (in 1973): Presumptive Finding of Death
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1E #15102
Missions:
Other Personnel in Incident: pilot unknown, possibly rescued
Refno: 0705
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File. Updated 05/2004
REMARKS:
CACCF/CRASH/AIRCREW
====================
No. 476-04
IMMEDIATE RELEASE  May 18, 2004
Missing Vietnam War Serviceman Identified
A serviceman missing in action from the Vietnam War has been identified and
returned to his family for burial.
He is Air Force Col. Lester E. Holmes of Plainfield, Iowa.
On May 22, 1967, Holmes was flying a forward air control mission over Quang
Binh Province, North Vietnam, when his 0-1E "Bird Dog" aircraft was struck
by enemy fire.  Another forward air controller in the area saw Holmes'
aircraft spiral toward the ground, but there were no emergency radio beacons
picked up for the next several days.  Enemy activity in the area prevented a
search and rescue operation.
During two investigations in 1991 and 1997, a joint team of U.S. and
Socialist Republic of Vietnam specialists interviewed villagers in the
province and surveyed three crash sites where Holmes' plane was allegedly
lost.  The searches met with negative results.
In October 1997, Vietnamese officials turned over to the United States the
results of a unilateral investigation in which they confirmed specifics of
the shoot down, though documented witnesses could not place the exact
location of the crash. Another joint team interviewed a retired Vietnamese
general officer who recalled witnessing on radar the downing of the
aircraft.  He claimed to have visited the crash site but could offer only a
general location.
A full-scale excavation of one of the crash sites first investigated in 1991
was carried out in late July 1998, when aircraft debris and human remains
were recovered.  Additionally, fragments of an eyeglass lens found at the
site were consistent with a prescription issued to Holmes.
The recovered remains and other circumstantial evidence were identified by
the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which also led the joint field
operations in Vietnam.  More than 88,000 Americans are missing in action
from all conflicts.  Of these, 1,859 are from the Vietnam War.
=========================
Officials return Vietnam War remains to family
HICKHAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Airmen of the 36th Aerial Port Squadron
carry the remains of Col. Lester Holmes out of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command here May 18. Colonel Holmes' son, Senior Master Sgt. Roger Holmes,
is the first sergeant for the squadron based at McChord Air Force Base,
Wash. The colonel was missing in action in Vietnam since May 22, 1967. His
remains were recently identified after they were recovered in 1998, and he
will be laid to rest May 22 with full military honors in Nashua, Iowa. (U.S.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wendy Beauchaine)
-------------------------
5/19/2004 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii. (AFPN)  -- The remains of an
Airman missing in action from the Vietnam War were returned to his family
May 18 for burial. They have been identified as Col. Lester Holmes, from
Plainfield, Iowa, who was missing since May 22, 1967.
Senior Master Sgt. Roger Holmes, a first sergeant with the 36th Aerial Port
Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and Tommy Holmes, of Payson,
Ariz., accepted their father's remains during a ceremony at the Joint
POW/MIA Accounting Command here.
Colonel Holmes will be laid to rest May 22 with full military honors in
Nashua, Iowa.
"For the last 37 years, my dad was never dead to me -- he was missing," said
Mr. Holmes, the youngest of Colonel Holmes' three sons, who wears a silver
MIA bracelet with his father's name on it on his right wrist. "(On May 22),
I'll never wear this particular (MIA) bracelet again; I'll put it in my
dad's coffin. But once I put that one away, I will wear another one with
another name on it -- the issue is that important to me."
About 15 Airmen from Sergeant Holmes' squadron stood in formation as Colonel
Holmes' remains were marched to a hearse. Six of them served as pallbearers.
Sergeant Holmes, trying to hold back his emotions, called the Airmen to
attention as his father was about to be returned to the family.
"It's hard," he said. "Am I supposed to be the rough and rugged first
sergeant? Or am I supposed to be a very emotional son?"
Colonel Holmes was flying a forward air-control mission over Quang Binh
Province, North Vietnam, when his 0-1E "Bird Dog" aircraft was struck by
enemy fire. Another forward air controller in the area saw Colonel Holmes'
aircraft spiral toward the ground, but there were no emergency radio beacons
picked up for the next several days. Enemy activity in the area prevented a
search and rescue operation, officials said.
During two investigations in 1991 and 1997, a team of U.S. and Vietnamese
specialists interviewed villagers in the province and surveyed three crash
sites near where Holmes' plane was reported lost. The searches came up
empty.
In October 1997, Vietnamese officials gave the United States results of an
investigation in which they confirmed specifics of the shoot down, though
documented witnesses could not place the exact location of the crash.
Another team interviewed a retired Vietnamese general officer who recalled
witnessing on radar the downing of the aircraft. He claimed to have visited
the crash site but could offer only a general location.
In late July 1998, aircraft debris and human remains were recovered during a
full-scale excavation of one of the crash sites first investigated in 1991.
Also, eyeglass lens fragments found at the site were the same prescription
issued to Colonel Holmes.
The recovered remains and other circumstantial evidence were identified by
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command officials Nov. 25, 2003, who also led the
field operations in Vietnam.
More than 88,000 Americans are missing from all conflicts. Of these, 1,859
are from the Vietnam War.