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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 11:59 UK

Last Australia Vietnam MIA return

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Chaplain Gary Whelband (L) leading the bearer party carrying the casket of returned serviceman Pilot Officer Robert Charles Carver - 31 August 2009
The men's bodies were lost in the jungle for decades

The remains of the last two Australian servicemen missing in action from the war in Vietnam have been returned to their homeland.

The remains of Flying Officer Michael Herbert and Pilot Officer Robert Carver were found last month.

They were found at a remote jungle site near the border with Laos where their bomber crashed 39 years ago.

They were honoured with a military ceremony at an airfield on the outskirts of Sydney.

Night raid

A military band was on hand, and so, too, an honour guard, as the remains of the two airmen were carried from the plane in flag-draped coffins.

With this brief ceremony a chapter in Australian military history came to a close.

Flying Officer Michael Herbert and Pilot Officer Robert Carver were both aged 24 when their Canberra bomber went missing after a night-time raid over central Vietnam in November 1970.

Last April, the wreckage of the bomber was found in remote jungle near the border with Laos, after a search conducted by an Australian army history unit.

Three months later the remains of the airmen were found, and then identified by Australian and Vietnamese forensic specialists.

Official interest in finding and repatriating Australia's missing war dead was revived in 2007 after a veterans' organisation found the bodies of two soldiers.

Another soldier was found that year, with a fourth found last year.

Now all the bodies have been retrieved and repatriated.

The United States still has nearly 1,800 servicemen unaccounted for throughout Southeast Asia, with some 1,300 in Vietnam alone.



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Australia
22 Feb 12 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Vietnam
13 Dec 11 |  Country profiles


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