8, 2004 AP Story
Texas - The remains of an American soldier who had been missing
since the Vietnam War are coming home after being located with help
from a former enemy.
Marine 2nd Lt. Donald John Matocha of Smithville was killed in a
firefight in April 1968 on Dong Ma mountain in what was then the
Republic of South Vietnam, but his body was not recovered.
Defense Department had essentially given up trying to locate his
remains by 1993, said Hattie Johnson, a case officer with the Marine
Corps casualty office in Washington. "They had exhausted all
means of looking," Johnson told the Austin American-Statesman.
in 1996, Nguyen Van Loc, a 58-year-old farmer who had been a squad
leader of the 320th Division of the People's Army of Vietnam, appeared
at the Army's POW/MIA office in Hanoi. He said he'd found a dead
American on Dong Ma mountain in the spring of 1968 and helped bury
him in a bomb crater.
grave was found in March, and dental records established positive
identification. A nephew is scheduled to escort Matocha's remains
to Smithville on Sept. 16.
found near the gravesite was a dog tag that belonged to Stan "Doc"
Sellers. Stan has been in contact wit the Matocha family and plans
to attend the burial.
Eiben, one of Matocha's eight younger siblings, said her family
will always appreciate Nguyen Van Loc's help.
owe a debt of gratitude to him and his willingness to make a repeat
visit to the site," she said.
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