Remains of Veteran Identified After Almost 50 Years

Remains of Veteran Identified After Almost 50 Years

( – The Vietnam War was undoubtedly one of the most controversial in United States history. Nearly 60,000 Americans died in the conflict. The US withdrew from Vietnam in March 1973, but according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), more than 1,200 remain unaccounted for and missing. One of those fortunate enough to return home died in 1975, but authorities only recently identified his remains.

On April 19, 1975, farmers chasing a runaway pig east of Flagstaff, Arizona, stumbled upon skeletal remains. Detectives tried for years to identify the body, which they eventually listed as Munsingwear Doe due to the name-brand jacket clothing the body. Eventually, the leads dried up, and the case went cold.

Fast-forward to August 2023: the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office decided to contract with a Salt Lake City, Utah, forensics firm to determine if they could identify the body using the Forensic Genetic Genealogy process. Lab technicians developed a DNA profile from the remains and used it to search databases. Through that process, Intermountain Forensics pinpointed a family line. After contacting a family member, that person identified the body as that of Gerald Francis Long. Officials matched his fingerprints and later his DNA.

Long joined the US Army in January 1969. That same year, the military branch deployed him to Vietnam. He returned in February 1972, and one month later, in March, the Army discharged him. In October 1972, he told his family he was moving west. That was the last time they heard from him.

The circumstances surrounding Long’s death are unknown. The coroner was unable to determine his cause of death. However, at least now, Long’s family, and those of the many previously unidentified victims that genealogy research has helped match, can account for his remains.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office thanked the FBI, Intermountain Forensics, and the Coconino Office of the Medical Examiner for their help in solving the mystery.

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