TREMBLEY, "J" FORREST GEORGE Remains Identified 2005
Name: "J" Forrest George Trembley Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 196, USS CONSTELLATION Date of Birth: 28 May 1942 (Norwich CT) Home City of Record: Spokane WA Date of Loss: 21 August 1967 Country of Loss: China Loss Coordinates: 213300N 1073200E (YJ519957) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Refno: 0800
Other Personnel in Incident: Dain V. Scott (missing); from other A6s: Robert J. Flynn (released POW) and Jimmy L. Buckley (ashes returned); Leo T. Profilet and William M. Hardman (both released POWs); on USAF F105s: Lynn K. Powell and Merwin L. Morrill (both remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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: 15 March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2005.
SYNOPSIS: On August 21, 1967, four aircraft launched from the USS CONSTELLATION with the assignment to strike the Duc Noi rail yard four miles north of Hanoi. The aircraft flew from Attack Squadron 196, based on board the carrier.
The route from the coast-in point was uneventful with the exception of some large weather cells building up. Further along their route they received indications of launched Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) and observed bursting 85mm anti-aircraft fire.
Lieutenant Commander "J" Forrest G. Trembley, bombardier/navigator of one Intruder, reported he had been hit and he was advised to reverse course and return to the coast. He transmitted that he was experiencing no difficulty and would proceed to the target rather than egress alone. Commander Jimmy L. Buckley was the pilot of this aircraft. Several SAMs had been launched at this time and a transmission was made "Heads up for the Air Force strike" which was being conducted in the vicinity of the A-6 target. An aircraft was hit which was thought to be an Air Force aircraft.
Two F105D aircraft, flown by Air Force Major Merwin L. Morrill and 1Lt. Lynn K. Powell, were shot down at this approximate location on August 21, 1967. It is believed that one of these is the aircraft referred to in Navy information concerning this incident. The remains of both Air Force crewmen were repatriated on June 3, 1983. While Morrill had been classified Missing in Action, it was believed that he was dead. Powell was classified as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
The division leader was hit while in the target area and two good parachutes were observed. The crew of this A6, Commander William M. Hardman and Capt. Leo T. Profilet, were captured by the North Vietnamese. Both men were released from captivity on March 15, 1973.
The other three aircraft began their egress from the target. Surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were in flight everywhere and the aircraft were maneuvering violently. A large weather cell separated them from the coast which precluded their egress further north than planned.
Another transmission was heard -- "Skipper get out" -- and the voice was recognized as that of Lieutenant Commander Trembley. A SAM detonated between two of the other aircraft, two parachutes and flying debris were observed. Lieutenant Commander Trembley transmitted, "This is Milestone 2, Milestone 1 was hit, 2 good chutes, 2 good chutes." The multitude of SAMs along with deteriorating weather may be the reason for the flight to ultimately stray well north of their planned egress track. It was believed that Lieutenant Commander Trembley's aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of the Chinese boarder.
Trembley and his BN, Dain V. Scott, were placed in a Missing In Action casualty status. Their case was discussed with the Chinese government by then Congressmen Hale Boggs and Gerald Ford, with very little information being obtained.
In their navigation around the weather, one of the remaining two A-6 aircraft observed MIGS in a run out of the overcast above Lieutenant Commander Flynn's aircraft. Requests for assistance were radioed but went unanswered. The tracking of the aircraft by airborne early warning aircraft showed them crossing the Chinese border. The maximum penetration was about eleven miles. A visual search could not be conducted due to poor weather in the vicinity of the last known position.
Later that day Peking Radio reported "two U.S. A-6 aircraft were shot down when they flagrantly intruded into China airspace and one crewman was captured". Lieutenant Commander Flynn was held prisoner in China, his pilot, Commander Jimmy L. Buckley, was reportedly killed in the shoot down.
On March 15, 1973 Lieutenant Commander Flynn was repatriated to U.S. jurisdiction in Hong Kong and returned to the United States. The ashes of Commander Jimmy L. Buckley were returned by the Chinese in December 1975.
Two Air Force bombers and three of the four Navy aircraft on the strike mission on August 21, 1967 were shot down. Trembley and Scott, of the eight Americans shot down on August 21, 1967, are the only two who remain Missing in Action.
When American involvement in the Vietnam war ended by means of peace accords signed in 1973, Americans held in countries other than Vietnam were not negotiated for. Consequently, almost all of these men remain missing. During the Nixon Administration and following administrations, relations with China have eased, but the U.S. seems reluctant to address the years-old problem of the fate of her men in China.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities believe there are hundreds who are still alive, held captive. Whether Trembley and Scott could be among them is not known. What seems certain, however, is that they have been abandoned for political expediency.
==================== NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 289-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE Mar 25, 2005 Media Contact: (703)697-5131 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
Missing In Action Serviceman Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Navy Lieutenant Commander J. Forrest G. Trembley of Spokane, Wash., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on April 1.
On August 21, 1967, Trembley and his fellow crewman took off in their A-6A *Intruder* from the U.S.S. Constellation on a strike mission against the Duc Noi rail yards near Hanoi, North Vietnam. On leaving the target area, their aircraft and another one in the flight were attacked by enemy MiGs. When last seen, the two aircraft were disappearing into the clouds near the Vietnamese-Chinese border. The last radio message from Trembley indicated the MiGs were in hot pursuit, but no further communications were heard.
Later that day, the Chinese government reported that two U.S. A-6s had been shot down over the People's Republic of China (PRC). The broadcast noted that one of the four crewmen had been captured but the other three died in the shoot down. The Chinese released the surviving crewman in March 1973.
With the assistance of the Chinese government, a joint U.S.-PRC team interviewed witnesses to the shoot down and crash in 1993 and 1999. U.S. specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a Chinese citizen near the crash site. He turned over Trembley's identification tag and fragmentary human remains alleged to be those of American pilots. The team recovered some pilot's gear from a burial site, but found no additional human remains.
Scientists of the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to identify the remains as those of Trembley.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam War, with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 747 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.