HARRIS, JEFFREY LYNDOL
REMAINS RETURNED 05/97
|Name: Jeffrey Lyndol Harris
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 28 May 1943
Home City of Record: Clinton MD
Date of Loss: 10 May 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 214100N 1050700E (WJ120975)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Dennis E. Wilkinson (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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.
SYNOPSIS: In the spring of 1972, the U.S. formulated the LINEBACKER offensive.
Its objective was to keep the weapons of war out of North Vietnam. At this time,
the North Vietnamese had one of the best air defense systems in the world, with
excellent radar integration of SA-2 SAMs, MiGs, and antiaircraft artillery. The
NVN defense system could counter our forces from ground level up to nineteen
miles in the air. MiG fighters were on ready alert, and after takeoff, were
vectored by ground-control radar. Soviet advisors devised attack strategies,
manned a number of the SAM sites, and also trained North Vietnamese crews.
On the first strike day, the entire force encountered heavy concentrations of
anti-aircraft fire and 16 MiGs were seen. Three of the MiGs were downed, but the
Air Force lost an air crew. An F4E flown by Capt. Jeffrey L. Harris and Weapons
Systems Officer Capt. Dennis E. Wilkinson exploded and crashed. The Air Force
believed there was reason to believe the two escaped the crippled plane, and
declared them both Missing in Action.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released from prisons in Hanoi. Harris and Wilkinson
were not among them. Military officials were dismayed that hundreds of known or
suspected prisoners were not released.
In 1978, Congressman "Sonny" Montgomery led a much-maligned delegation to Hanoi
to determine whether any American POWs remained in Vietnam. The Vietnamese told
him there were none, and gave the delegation a few sets of American remains. Mr.
Montgomery returned with the report that all Americans were dead.
One of the sets of remains given to Montgomery was subsequently identified as
Dennis E. Wilkinson. If the Vietnamese could account for him, it seems unlikely
that they are unable to account for Harris as well.
LINEBACKER and LINEBACKER II offensives were the most effective strikes against
enemy defenses in the war. By the end of these surgical strikes, according to
pilots who flew the missions, the North Vietnamese had "nothing left to shoot at
us as we flew over. It was like flying over New York City."
Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of
reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in
captivity. As in the case of Wilkinson, Vietnam and her communist allies can
account for most of them.
In the total view of the issue of the missing, however, the return of remains
signals no progress. In the early 1980's the very credible Congressional
testimony of a Vietnamese mortician indicated that the Vietnamese possess over
400 sets of remains. In 15 years, they have returned barely half of them. More
importantly, the same credible witness, whose testimony is believed throughout
Congress, stated that he had seen live Americans held at the same location where
the remains were stored.
As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, the
only issue is that one living man. We must bring them home before there are only
remains to negotiate for.
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS (MFC05-29)
May 29, 1997
The remains of an American serviceman previously unaccounted-for from the
war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to his
family for burial in the United States.
He is Captain Jeffrey L. Harris, USAF, of Clinton, Md. On May 10, 1972,
Capt. Harris was flying his F-4E Phantom on a combat mission over North
Vietnam when he was attacked by a MiG-19. The flight leader of the mission
observed Capt. Harris' aircraft burst into flames shortly before it
crashed. There were no radio transmissions heard from the stricken
aircraft, and no one in the flight saw any parachutes or received any
emergency beeper signals.
In August 1978 the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) unilaterally
turned over the remains of Air Force Capt. Dennis E. Wilkinson, the weapons
systems officer aboard the F-4E. Wilkinson, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was
positively identified the following month.
Three joint U.S. - S.R.V. teams conducted investigations and excavations in
1993, 1995 and 1996. During the last excavation, they recovered human
remains, personal effects, crew-related equipment and a blood chit. A blood
chit is a document often carried by aircrew members to aid in their escape
or evasion if they crash behind enemy lines. Individual remains of Harris,
and group remains of both Harris and Wilkinson are being returned to their
families for burial at a later date.
With the identification of Capt. Harris, 2,123 American servicemen remain
unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the
government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which resulted in the
accounting of this serviceman. We hope that such cooperation will bring
increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting
for these Americans is of the highest national priority.
National Alliance of Families Newsletter 05/31/97
REMAINS RETURNED -- The Pentagon announced the remains identification of
Air Force Capt. Jeffrey L. Harris. Captain Harris and Capt. Dennis E.
Wilkinson were aboard a F-4E shot down over North Vietnam on May 10th,
The remains of Capt. Wilkinson were unilaterally turned over, by the
Vietnamese in August 1978. They were positively identified the following
month, according to the Defense POW/MIA Weekly Update. Three joint U.S. -
SRV investigations and excavations in 1993, 1995, and 1996 were conducted
with remains recovered during the 1996 excavation. Also recovered were
personal effects, crew equipment and a blood chit.
Individual remains of Capt. Harris will be returned to his family.
Individually unidentifiable commingled remains of both crewmen will also be
returned for burial. To the Harris and Wilkinson family, we offer our
prayers, support and hope that you now have the answers you truly deserve.
QUESTIONS -- The recovery of remains associated to Capt. Harris, raises
several questions in our minds. Captain Wilkinson's remains were returned
by the Vietnamese in 1978 and positively identified. Under what
circumstances did the Vietnamese come to have Captain Wilkinson's remains?
Did he and Capt. Harris die in the crash? Did the Vietnamese recover Capt.
Wilkinson's remains from the crash site and return them to the United
States? If so, why didn't they recover the remains of Capt. Harris at the s
ame time and return them also? It seems highly unlikely that the Vietnamese
would recover one set of remains from a crash site and leave another.
Were both sets of remains recovered and stored with one crewman returned and
one held in the warehouse for later "discovery.?" Did one or both of the
crewmen survive the incident only to die unacknowledged in a second tier
prison camp? Were Capt. Harris remains returned to the excavation site, in
1996, to be "discovered" by JTF-FA investigators?
QUESTIONS --- Even when a family is presented with a good identification,
and we don't know that to be true in this case, they are still left with
many unanswered questions. Questions that the Vietnamese could easily
answer and choose not to. So much for that "superb cooperation" we all
hear so much about.
North Vietnam, pre-1975: Capt. Jeffrey L. Harris and Dennis E. Wilkinson MIAs.
By LA Story firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey L. Harris crashed during a 1972 offensive meant to keep weapons out of North Vietnam, according to the POW Network. The bracelet she wore was found last year by local resident Bobby McDaniel, who had been out treasure hunting with a metal detector. He found the bracelet about 6 inches ...