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 Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B57 Refno: 1359 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 2007.
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 night reconnaissance.)
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 11/20/06
Lt Colonel Paul E. Getchell, USAF, ME, MIA 1/13/69, Laos, RR 12-16-05, ID 11/20/06
Major Benjamin F. Danielson, USAF, USA, MN, MIA 12/5/69, Laos, RR 11/12/03, ID 8/6/046
Sergeant First Class Lewis C. Walton, RI, MIA 5/10/71, SVN, RR 10/19/04, ID 10/23/06
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 Public/Industry(703) 428-0711
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 incident.
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 herself that 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. Getchell, 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 making arrangements to bury her ashes with his remains in Arlington National Cemetery this summer......