GETCHELL, PAUL EVERETT
Remains Returned 12/16/05 ID 11/20/06
Name: Paul Everett Getchell
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, Phan Rang Airbase
Date of Birth: 12 November 1936
Home City of Record: Portland ME
Date of Loss: 13 January 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161600N 1064800E (XD936005)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Norman D. Eaton (missing)
Source: Compiled from 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 in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: The B57 Canberra was a light tactical bomber that played a varied
role in the Vietnam conflict. A veteran of operations Rolling Thunder and
Steel Tiger, B57's from the 8th Tactical Bombing Squadron at Phan Rang,
South Vietnam had also been equipped with infared sensors for night strike
operations in Tropic Moon II and III in the spring of 1967.
Col. Dale Eaton was the pilot and Capt. Paul E. Getchell the co-pilot of a
B57 Canberra light bomber which was lost in Savannakhet Province, Laos on
January 13, 1969. The aircraft was apparently struck by hostile fire at
about 50 miles southeast of the city of Muong Nong. (NOTE: Although the B57
model on which Eaton and Getchell were flying is not noted in any available
records, based on the history of the aircraft and the nature of warfare in
Laos, it is likely that the two were aboard either one of the later G models
- assigned to night intruder missions - or the RB57E model - assigned to
Although no parachutes were observed by other aircraft in the area, a
forward air controller (FAC) reported hearing a faint beeper in the
approximate area where the last radio transmission was received.
Both men were declared Missing In Action and classified in "Category 2",
which indicates the strong possibility that the enemy knew their fate. There
are nearly 600 lost in Laos. They were not negotiated for in the Paris Peace
accords, nor have they been negotiated for since, and as a consequence, not
one man held in Laos was ever released.
There are nearly 2500 Americans who remain missing in Southeast Asia.
Intelligence and refugee reports from the region continue to mount that
there are still Americans in captivity in Southeast Asia. Dale Eaton and
Paul Getchell could be among them. It's time we brought our men home.
National League of Families
POW/MIA Update: February 12, 2007
U.S. PERSONNEL MISSING FROM THE VIETNAM WAR: There are now 1,787 US
personnel listed as missing and unaccounted for by the Department of
Defense. The identifications of four Americans previously
missing/unaccounted for from the Vietnam War were recently announced:
Colonel Norman D. Eaton, USAF, OK, MIA 1/13/69, Laos, RR 12/16/05, ID
Lt Colonel Paul E. Getchell, USAF, ME, MIA 1/13/69, Laos, RR 12-16-05, ID
Major Benjamin F. Danielson, USAF, USA, MN, MIA 12/5/69, Laos, RR 11/12/03,
Sergeant First Class Lewis C. Walton, RI, MIA 5/10/71, SVN, RR 10/19/04, ID
The League extends best wishes to the families and friends of these men and
hopes that these final answers bring long-awaited peace of mind. The
accounting for these Americans brings to 795 the number of US personnel
accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Over 90% of the
1,788 still listed as missing were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and
Cambodia under Vietnamese wartime control.
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 480-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Airmen Missing In Action From Vietnam War Are Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced
today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the
Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families
for burial with full military honors.
They are Col. Norman D. Eaton, of Weatherford, Okla., and Lt. Col. Paul E.
Getchell, of Portland, Maine, both U.S. Air Force. Eaton will be buried
April 25 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., and Getchell
will be buried later this spring at Arlington.
On Jan. 13, 1969, Eaton and Getchell crewed a B-57B Canberra bomber
participating in a nighttime attack on targets in Salavan Province,
Laos. The target area was illuminated by flares from a C-130 aircraft;
however, the flares dimmed as the B-57 began its third bombing run on the
target. The crew was low on fuel, but decided to continue the attack run
without illumination. The C-130 crew received a radio transmission
indicating that the B-57 was off target and seconds later, the plane
crashed. Eaton and Getchell could not be recovered at the time of the
In 1995, a joint U.S.-Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team, led
by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident
and interviewed a Laotian citizen who recalled the crash. Another joint
U.S.- L.P.D.R. team surveyed the site and found wreckage and crew-related
materials consistent with the citizen's report.
In 2003, a joint U.S.-L.P.D.R. team excavated the crash site and recovered
Eaton's identification tag. The team was unable to complete the recovery and
subsequent teams re-visited the site five more times between 2004 and 2005
before the recovery was complete. As a result, the teams found Getchell's
identification tag, human remains and additional crew-related items.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account
for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http;//www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1169.
BY MELANIE CREAMER
The Portland Press Herald
Teresa Getchell waited 38 years, four months and one week to see for
her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Getchell, had indeed died instantly when the
two-man B-57B Canberra bomber he was co-piloting crashed into a mountainside in
Laos on Jan. 13, 1969.
Five years ago, the military identified his remains using DNA analysis.
who devoted nearly half of her life to finding her husband, will finally join him.
She died last week after a short illness. She was 75. Her family is
to bury her ashes with his remains in Arlington National Cemetery this summer......