Army Capt. James Johnstone, of Baton Rouge, La., was buried Dec. 12, in Arlington National Cemetery. On Nov. 19, 1966, Johnstone was the pilot of an OV-1A Mohawk aircraft that crashed while conducting a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos. Nearby U.S. aircrews reported seeing the wing of Johnstone’s aircraft hit a tree during a climb to avoid a nearby ridgeline. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.
He is one of 139 individuals listed on the memorial plaque at the Army Intelligence Aviation Memorial Park. Capt. Johnstone’s co-pilot, Maj. Jim Whited, was buried in 1966 but Johnstone’s remains had only recently been recovered.
From 1993 to 2009, joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, interviewed multiple witnesses, and conducted several investigations and excavations of the crash site in Attapu Province. The teams located human remains, military equipment, an identification card bearing Johnstone’s name, and aircraft wreckage of an OV-1A, which correlated with the last known location of Johnstone’s aircraft.
To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification tools, such as dental comparisons.