Remains identified 2001.
Name: Jerry Lawrence Degnan
Branch/Rank: CIVILIAN
Date of Birth: 03 August 1939
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 28 August 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170519 North  1064130
Status (in 1973): Missing
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident:
Refno: 0816
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, the National Alliance of Families.
                          APO SAN FRANCISCO 96330
                                                                23 APR 1976
SUBJECT: Project X
THRU: Commander-in-Chief, Pacific
FPO San Francisco 96610
TO: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
International Security Affairs
ATTN: CAPT Ray Vohden, USN
Washington, D. C. 20301
1. Project X is a study I initiated for operational purposes in August 1975
to evaluate the possibility of any of the unaccounted for being alive. The
conclusion reached is: There is a possibility that as many as 57 Americans
could be alive, although it is highly probable that the number is much
smaller, possibly zero.
2. I emphasize that this conclusion is not an assertion that 57 or any
other number of unaccounted for Americans are alive in SEA or in the hands
of the Vietnamese, Laotians, or Cambodians.
3. This study has been held close and is forwarded to DOD ISA at the
request of Dr. Roger Shields, made during my conversation with him in his
office on 27 January 1976.
4. This study has taken over 8 months and has involved many analysts.
Included were personnel experienced in Aviation, Ground Operations, Search
and Rescue, and Intelligence. Summaries for each of the 57 possibilities
are enclosed. Two principal criteria for determining any individual as
"possibly alive" were used:
a: The existence of positive reasonable indicators suggesting that the
individual concerned survived the loss incident.
b: The absence of a reasonable case supporting an assertion that the
individual concerned is dead.
5. It should be recognized that the average age of JCRC data is about seven
6. Many factors were considered during this study. A description of the
methodology employed is available at JCRC Headquarters on request.
John P. Vollmer
Col, USA
                                          REGRADED UNCLASSIFIED
                                          WHEN SEPARATED FROM
                                          CLASSIFIED INCLOSURES
                              PROJECT X INDEX
               0031 ------------ Greer, Robert L.
               0031 ---------------Schreckengost, Fred T.
               0054------------ Mc Lean, James H
               0100------------ Tavares, John C. (Civilian)
               0124 ------------ Mellor, Frederick
               0155 -------------- Garwood, Robert
               0223 ------------ Bailon Ruben (Civilian)
               0223 ------------ O'Laughlin, Stephen
               0253 ------------ Mauterer, Oscar
               0267------------ Peterson, Delbert R.
               0286 ------------ Hewitt, Samuel
               0297 ------------ Gates, James W.
               0297 ------------ Lafayette, John
               0314 ------------ Goss, Berneard J.
               0329 ------------ Thomas, Kenneth D.
               0358 ------------ Harris, Gregory
               0413------------ Kwortnik, John C.
               0432 ------------ Brand, Joseph W.
               0453 ------------ Tatum, Lawrence B.
               0466 ------------ Ammon, Glendon L.
               0541 ----------- Warren, Arthur L.
               0641------------ O'Grady, John F.
               0646 ------------ Hasenbeck, Paul A.
               0646 ------------ Mangino, Thomas A.
               0646 ------------ Nidds, Daniel R.
               0646 ------------ Winters, David M.
               0667 ------------ Graham, James S.
               0685 ------------ Dodge Ronald W.
               0754 ------------ Frederick, William V.
               0816 ------------ Degnan, Jerry L. (Civilian)
               0826------------ Moore, Herbert W.
               0830 ------------ La Porte, Michael
               0840------------ Vescelius, Milton J.
               0914------------ Hauer, Leslie J.
               0920 ------------ Teague, James E.
               0969 ------------ Hartney, James C.
               0970------------ Jones, William E.
               1010------------ Cocheo, Richard (Civilian)
               1011------------ Lacey, Richard J.
               1130 ------------ Metz, James H.
               1131 ------------ Held, John W.
               1274 ------------ Pridemore, Dallas
               1321 ------------ Erskine,Jack D. (CIVILIAN)
               1329 ------------ Francisco, San D.
               1329 ------------ Morrison, Joseph
               1372 ------------ Briggs, Ronald D.
               1372 ------------ Christiansen, Eugene F.
               1372 ------------ O'Hara, Robert C.
               1372 ------------ Parsons, Donald E.
               1372 ------------ Padgett, David E.
               1372 ------------ Stanley, Charles I.
               1402 ------------ Mc Donnel, John T.
               1673 ------------ Mc Kay, Clyde W. (Civilian)
               1747 ------------ Soyland, David P.
               1982------------ Morris, George W.
               1982------------ Peterson, Mark A.
               1994------------ Dean, Charles (Civilian)
               1994------------ Sharman, Neil (Australian)
                        SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: Mr. Degnan disappeared from the Saigon area and
all efforts to locate him or obtain information concerning his
disappearance were without success.
REFNO: 0816 19 Apr 76
1. On 28 August 1967 Jerry L. Degnan disappeared from the Saigon area in the
vicinity of grid coordinates XS 800 900. The US Embassy and investigative
services conducted an investigation without success. (Ref 1)
2. ADO MR-III Comment - Details of this case were given to the Two-Party
Joint Military Commission and to the Special Assistant to the Ambassador
for field operations, US EMB Saigon. These details were subsequently given
to the Mayor of Saigon, but neither PubCom nor investigation by VN National
Police (Special Branch) could generate additional information on this case.
Go Vap District officials recovered a set of remains in October 1974 which
were thought to be those of this individual; however CILHI determined the
remains to be Mongoloid.
                 * National Alliance of Families Home Page
National Alliance of Families
For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen
World War II - Korea - Cold War - Vietnam
Dolores Alfond - 425-881-1499
Lynn O'Shea --- 718-846-4350
Web Site
email --
Bits N Pieces - -  May 19, 2001
The National Alliance of Families mourns the passing of Michael
Skivington, brother of POW/MIA William Skivington, Jr., Kham Duc, May
11, 1968.   Born  August 21st  1953, Michael Skivington passed on
Wednesday, May 16,  2001.  To his wife Ilse,  his son William Edward,
III, parents William E.  Sr., and Berta Skivington, we offer our deepest
In this edition of "Bits" we bring you the case of Jerry Degnan, a
civilian  missing in Vietnam.  Jerry never served active duty.  He did
serve in the  Ohio National Guard and at 28, he went to Vietnam, as a
civilian employee  of Decca Navigator Systems, Inc.,  based Saigon.  The
company was under government contract to train U.S. helicopter pilots.
Its employees would  travel from base to base, often as un-manifested
passengers, with the latest technology to assist and train U.S. pilots.
While these employees were not members of the military, sheep dipped like
the men of Site 85, they were an integral part of the war effort.   More
importantly, they were American's operating in harms way.   As such they
should have been entitled to the full protection of the United States
In cases where the U.S. government can not protect these citizens, it is
the obligation of the government to do everything in their power to
recover these individuals while treating the family with the same
dignity and respect afforded to the families of our missing servicemen.
Sadly, the story of Jerry Degnan, and his family leads us to believe
civilians are, second class citizens, when it comes to the governments
dealing with their families.
We became interested in this case on May 3rd 2001, when we received an
email, which contained the May 2nd transcript of the National League of
Families Update line.   It stated; "Late yesterday, the Defense POW/MIA
Office web site posted a change in the number of missing civilians from
39 to 38, having recently concluded perhaps the longest and one of the
most complex identifications associated with the Vietnam War."
"This individual was not manifested on the helicopter that crashed
August 9, 1967, with 5 manifested personnel on board; however, five
remains were recovered immediately and his remains were mistakenly
interred as an Army serviceman.  When a sixth set of remains was
recovered several days later and ID'd as those of the Army serviceman
interred years before, the remains previously buried in error were
disinterred in 1982, and identification efforts were recently renewed thanks
to a dedicated CILHI data analyst. It is complex, but attests to the
determination that CILHI brings to the mission of accounting for missing
Naturally, the thought of another remains misidentification, from a multiple
loss incident, peaked our curiosity.   With a little research, we learned
that the remains misidentified in 1967, were now identified as civilian
Jerry Degnan.   However, we still had an unexplained discrepancy between the
date of the helicopter accident and the reported dated of Mr. Degnan's
We made inquires of several POW/MIA Advocates, hoping to locate a family
member, with no luck.  Then on May 13th, we received an email that said,
quite simply "Please E mail me back if you wish to talk to me."  The
email was signed Ronald Degnan.   Attached to the email was a case
history.   What you will read, is based, in part, on that case history
and information provided by Ron Degnan, in a phone conversation with
Lynn O'Shea.
Public records state civilian Jerry Degnan was reported missing on
August 28th 1967.  This date was established based on the recollections
of one Decca employee who stated he had met with Degnan and another
Decca employee on August 25th.   So, how could he have been on a
helicopter that crashed on August 9th?
Now, for the rest of the story:
On August 9th 1967, a helicopter carrying a crew of four, plus one
passenger was involved in a mid-air collision.  With the assistance of
the POW Network, we were able to obtain the names of the 5 servicemen on
board the helicopter when it crashed. (This occurred prior to our contact
with Ron Degnan.)   The pilot of the aircraft survived.   The crew and
passenger of the helicopter were not as fortunate.   Shortly after the
incident five sets of remains were recovered.  Four of the remains carried
dentification media, dog tags, military identification cards and name tags
on their fatigues.   The fifth set of remains bore no identification media,
no tags, no ID card and his fatigues carried no name. Dental identification
for the fifth set of remains was "inconclusive." However, age, race and hair
color were in general agreement with the fifth set of remains.Regular
readers of "Bits" know an "inconclusive" dental match never stopped an
identification before, and this case was no exception.   Based on process of
elimination the remains of the 5th man recovered from that helicopter was
identified as the passenger.   His remains were returned to his family for
burial sometime in either August or early September of 1967.
Four months later, on December 30th 1967, a U.S. patrol operating in the
area of the helicopter crash located the remains of an American
serviceman, in fatigues with dog tags and identification card in
place.   The name on the dog tags and ID card matched the helicopter
passenger, identified and sent home for burial some four months earlier.
The remains, along with the identification media, were sent to the
Mortuary at Tan Son Nhut.   We have to assume that the dental records
were available for this individual, as they were used in the
"identification" of the now unknown or 6th individual aboard that
helicopter.  Yet,  NOTHING was done in 1968 to correct the obvious
The remains were held at Tan Son Nhut until the war ended and the
mortuary was closed.   From Tan Son Nhut, the remains were shipped to
the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) - Thailand.   In 1976, they
were moved to the new CIL headquarters in Hawaii. It was not until 1982,
fifteen years after their recovery, that CIL-HI finally decided it had
enough information to make a formal identification.
Why did CIL-HI decide to correct this error in 1982?  Perhaps, someone
decided it was time to do the right thing.   We'd like to think so, but
CIL-HI's record does not support that assumption.   The time frame says
it all  -  1982.
Starting in 1981, the United States government actively pushed for
remains to be designated the Vietnam Unknown.   In 1982, everyone was
looking to CIL-HI to provide a Vietnam Unknown, in spite of the fact that no
remains met the criteria for an Unknown Soldier.  Every set of remains at
CIL-HI became a potential candidate for the Vietnam Unknown.   Memos dating
back to 1981, detail a single-minded effort to provide, or make a Vietnam
Unknown. Perhaps someone asked why a set of remains with dog tags, an ID
card and potentially with dental records had been held at various mortuaries
for fifteen years.
While unfortunate for the Blassie family, it was fortunate for the
Degnan family that the 6th set of remains from that helicopter crash,
was not stripped of his identity, as Blassie was, and designated the
Vietnam Unknown.
Once the remains misidentification was corrected, CIL-HI had another
problem.   They now held a set of remains that did not match the records
of any unaccounted serviceman missing in Southeast Asia.     This would
not be the last time CIL-HI would find themselves in that situation.
According to Degnan's brother Ron, very little effort was expended to
learn the circumstances of Jerry's disappearance.  As with most POW/MIA
families the Degnan's launched their own investigation of Jerry's
disappearance.  They accumulated a basement full of documentation and
information.  The family's review of the case led them to the conclusion
that Jerry had, in fact, disappeared some 19 days earlier.  Repeated
requests to investigate this information was, according to Ron Degnan,
ignored.   In Ron's words, "we couldn't get anyone to listen."
In 1993, Ron  traveled to Washington D.C. to review his brothers
classified file.  As with other families, he discovered that his
brothers "classified file" held little information and that his own file
was much larger and contained more detailed information.
No progress was made in identifying the unknown remains exhumed from the
1967 grave, until 1998.    That is when the case was taken over by a new
CIL-HI analyst.   With devotation above and beyond, this analyst reviewed
information and evidence that led him to the conclusion that the unknown
remains were, in fact, those of Jerry Degnan. Anthropological evidence
showed the remains to be of a Caucasian male aged 23 - 30 years old,
approximately 5" 10".   The remains showed signs of trauma consistent with
an air crash.  Degnan's records indicated he was a Caucasian male, 28 years
old who stood 5' 11".
Using a new technique of Digital superimposition of X rays over photos of
bones,  a "near exact match" was made of the clavicle to a 30+ year old X
ray of Jerry Degnan.   In addition to the digital superimposition, mt-DNA
testing was used.
Still the analyst had to reconcile the discrepancy between the date of
the helicopter crash and the date of Degnan's reported disappearance.
That is when the family was contacted and asked if they knew of any way
Jerry Degnan could have gone missing before the reported date.
Finally, someone listened to Ron Degnan.   According to information
obtained by the family, the third person present at the 25 August 1967
meeting with Jerry Degnan denied such a meeting every took place.  He
further stated that his records indicated that he was not in Saigon on
August 25th.
In a sworn statement this gentleman stated that he last saw Jerry Degnan
on August 8th 1967 at approximately 11:30 AM.   The helicopter crashed
August 9th with 4 crewman, 1 manifested and 1 un-manifested passenger on
board. Add this information to the fact, the Jerry told his family that he
could fly any time he wanted, often as an un-manifested passenger.
Based on the evidence and efforts of the CIL-HI analyst, the remains
misidentified in 1967 were identified on April 13th 2001, as Jerry
Degnan.  The Degnan family is satisfied with the accuracy of the
identification and are pleased with the efforts of the CIL-HI analyst
since 1998.
However, they would still like to know why it took from 1967 to 1982 to
correct an obvious and well documented error in identification.  As Ron
Degnan asked, "why the cover up."
End of story.... hardly
Over the years the governments callous treatment of POW/MIA family
members has been well documented in the pages of "Bit N Pieces"  We
thought we had heard it all.  We hadn't.
The treatment of the Degnan family left us speechless.   Any POW/MIA family
member who has gone through the identification process knows that you
receive a visit from two representatives of mortuary affairs. During that
visit various documents are presented and explained detailing the
identification process.  These documents include forensic reports as well as
detailed photos of the remains.   The family is then given the opportunity
to pose questions, if they choose.  Once the identification is  made a
casket is provided and the body is transported to the location of the
family's choosing for burial.
Civilians lost in war zones and their families receive no such
consideration.   The Degnan family received their identification
information in the mail.   We were stunned.   In conversation with Lynn
O'Shea, Ron Degnan stated "I can't imagine being a mother or wife and
getting something like this in the mail with no preparation or
Next, Mr. Degnan detailed an Army letter which stated he had 21 days to
notify the Army as to how he would reimburse the government for cost to
transport the remains.  After much aggravation, the remains were finally
shipped air freight.  At this point Ron Degnan doesn't know who is paying
for the shipment and is waiting to see if he receives a bill. The remains
arrived at their destination,  wrapped in an army blanket, in side a
cardboard box, and then placed in a stapled plywood box.
Don't civilians working in war zones, for companies under government
contract deserve better than a cardboard box?  Jerry Degnan was not the only
civilian missing in Vietnam.   Is this how other civilian families can
expect to be treated.?  How much would it have cost to send two members of
mortuary affairs to properly brief the Degnan family?  How much would it
have cost the government to return the remains of Jerry Degnan, to his
family,  with the dignity they deserved?
Ron Degnan is angry.  He realizes that he can do nothing about how his
family  and his brother's remains were handled.   He would, however, like to
make sure that no other family of a civilian, working for the U.S.
government or its contractors in a war zone is treated as his family was.
One of two things must happen to prevent other civilian families of missing
Americans from receiving the same treatment as the Degnans.  The U.S.
government must assume responsibility for the return of remains of missing
civilians, to their families.   Or, companies under government contract must
set up a fund to be held in escrow,  to cover the cost of transporting the
remains of their employees.
Support the American Servicemembers Protection Act - Until two days ago,
we'd never heard of this legislation, which just passed the House of
Representatives.  It now heads for the Senate where a battle is
expected.   The need for this legislation and what it means, is best
explained in a letter we received from Congressman Peter King (R-NY).
In a letter to Lynn O'Shea, dated May 15, 2001, Congressman King stated:
" There is no obligation I take more seriously as a Congressman than
supporting our Armed Forces.  When we send our men and women into
battle, we have the absolute moral obligation to give our full support
to those men and women every step of the way."
"That is why I am so concerned about the threat which our Armed Forces
will face from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that is now being
set up by the United Nations.  Once it is operating, the ICC will claim
jurisdiction to prosecute American solders for "war crimes" and "crimes
against humanity."
"Last week's decision to remove the United States from the U.N. Commission
on Human Rights, while keeping such brutal countries as Cuba, Libya, China
and Sudan on the Commission, gives us an idea of the type of justice the ICC
can be expected to dispense.  Moreover, any Servicemen prosecuted by the ICC
will be denied constitutional rights guaranteed them under our Bill of
Rights.  What a disgrace!  This U.N. Court is a direct threat to our
sovereignty which should be opposed by every American."
"To protect our servicemen, I was proud yesterday to vote for the American
Servicemembers Protection Act. This legislation will:
        (a)     prohibit any entity of the United States Government from
cooperating in any way with the ICC;
        (b)     prohibit the participation of U.S. military personnel in
any UN peacekeeping operation unless our forces are exempted from
prosecution by the ICC;
        (c)     prohibit the transfer of any classified information to
the ICC;
        (d)     prohibit U.S. military assistance to countries that are
a party to the ICC; and
        (e)     authorize the President to use any measures necessary to
bring about the release of U.S. or Allied personnel detained or
imprisoned by the ICC.
"....This legislation will now go to the Senate where it will face a
tough fight.  Be assured I will do all I can to highlight this issue and
focus public attention on it.  The American military must not be held
hostage to the whims of the U.N."
Obviously, this is a piece of legislation we need to support.   After
hearing the story of Jerry Degnan, we have to ask... What about the
civilians?  How will they be protected?
Army Times
June 19, 2001
Army bills family of civilian casualty for shipping remains home
Associated Press
CANFIELD, Ohio - The family of an Army civilian contractor killed in Vietnam
in 1967 was billed $700 for shipping home his recently identified remains.
"That's not what he died for," said Ronald Degnan of Canfield, Ohio, brother
of the victim, Jerry Degnan. The remains, wrapped in an Army blanket, were
flown along with a flag in a plywood box to Cleveland........