A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) team have unearthed the remains of Australia’s last missing servicemen from the Vietnam War from the crash site of their Canberra bomber.
Flying Officer Michael Herbert, 24, from Glenelg, South Australia, and navigator Pilot Officer Robert Carver, 24, from Toowoomba, Queensland, both died when their Canberra bomber (A84-231) crashed near the Laotian border while returning from a mission on November 3, 1970.
“An Air Force investigation team which recently deployed to Vietnam have found human remains at the site where the wreckage of a Royal Australian Air Force Canberra bomber was located in April this year,” said Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science in a statement dated 30 July, 2009.
The remains were transported to Hanoi, where Vietnamese and Australian forensic specialists identified them as those of Flying Officer Michael Herbert and Pilot Officer Robert Carver of 2 Squadron RAAF, then based at Phan Rang.
“This is an excellent result for the investigation team and the cooperation of the Vietnamese authorities has been exceptional and highly valued by the team and the Government of Australia.
“Invaluable assistance has been given by a number of former North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers and their commanders as well as many local villagers. Their compassion and commitment to assisting this vital mission is greatly appreciated,” Mr Combet said.
A timetable for the return of these remains to Australia has yet to be agreed between the Australian and Vietnamese Governments. Details of the burial of the airmen are a private matter for the families.
This final discovery also means the closure for Operation Aussie Home, a volunteer organisation set-up by former Lieutenant Jim Bourke to account for all Australian MIAs from Vietnam. Mission accomplished.