WASHINGTON — The Pentagon today identified the remains of five Americans returned by Hanoi, including those of a Navy flier who was the first American pilot shot down over North Vietnam.
Defense Department experts said one of the newly identified sets of remains were those of Navy Lt. (j.g.) Richard Sather of Pomona, Calif., who on Aug. 5, 1964, was shot down over North Vietnam while flying an A-1 attack jet. He was the first U.S. pilot to be listed as missing in the Vietnam War.
The other four MIAs identified were Navy Cmdr. Randolph Ford of Gainesville, Fla.; Army Sgt. Richard Williams of San Leandro, Calif.; Marine Sgt. Joseph Zawtocki of Utica, N.Y., and Army Spec. Frances Cannon of Phoenix, Ariz.
The Americans identified today were among the remains of 26 returned by Hanoi last Aug. 14. Nineteen were identified earlier and the remains of two others have not been identified.
Richard L. Armitage, the assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, said four of the five sets of remains will be flown from Hawaii to California today. The fifth--those of Sather--will be buried in Hawaii at his family's request, Armitage said.
Search Stepped Up
Armitage also announced today that the United States will step up its search for missing American servicemen by beginning excavation on Nov. 18 at a crash site of an American warplane in North Vietnam. The site is a rice paddy nine miles north of the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi where a B-52 bomber crashed in December, 1972, possibly with its full crew of six men, he said.
The Pentagon had disclosed on Oct. 25 that the Vietnamese government had "agreed in principle" to allow an American excavation. At that point, however, Defense officials said they were still negotiating with the Vietnamese over how the search would be handled and when it would begin.