U.S. Air Force Capt. David Joseph Phillips
Soldier Gets Proper Burial After 39 Years

Soldier Gets Proper Burial After 39 Years
By DAVID A. MARKIEWICZ
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/03/05


Davida Josephine Stubbs never got to meet her father, the man she was named for, when he was alive.

Friday, she finally got to bring him home.

Thirty-nine years after U.S. Air Force Capt. David Joseph Phillips was shot down and reported missing during combat in South Vietnam, his recently discovered remains were returned to Savannah in a green wool military blanket pinned to a decorated soldier's uniform like the kind he would have worn.

"I slid my hand in there between the blanket and the suit," said Stubbs who, with her two sisters, had helped bring their father's remains back this week from a military laboratory in Hawaii where they had been conclusively identified.

"I slid my hand in there between the blanket and the suit," said Stubbs who, with her two sisters, had helped bring their father's remains back this week from a military laboratory in Hawaii where they had been conclusively identified.

"Let me tell you," she said, "that was a moment."

There will be plenty more moments today when Phillips is laid to rest during a full military graveside service in a historic cemetery along the Savannah River.

The theme of the ceremony, which will feature a military flyover in the missing man formation, is "Home at Last."

Phillips' closest survivors, his three daughters and his brother, say that's fitting.

Since July 3, 1966, when Phillips' F5 Tiger jet went down in a thicket of mangrove trees near Pho Son, relatives have wondered whether he would ever return.

For a long, torturous time, they even wondered whether he might return alive.

In 1984, Phillips' wife, Peggy, was notified that her husband had been seen alive in a POW camp. The rumor was soon discredited, but the hope that it created threw the family into upheaval.

Stubbs recalls her mother considering a trip to Vietnam to try and find the truth herself.

"Mom went through a roller coaster," she said. "She talked so many times about getting on a plane and going over there."

Phillips' brother, Richard, said their mother could never believe her son was dead. One time, Richard Phillips recalled, she was sure she saw him in a Savannah restaurant, obviously injured and bandaged in hospital garb, escorted by other soldiers.

"She was convinced it was him," he said.

Richard Phillips said he never believed anyone could survive a crash in the plane his brother flew, as it was delicate.

Still, there was no answer. Not for Peggy Phillips, who died in 1989 never knowing for sure if her husband was alive or dead.

The hardest part for her mother, Stubbs recalled, was worrying that her husband was undergoing daily torture, as the years turned into decades. The truth came when an excavation of the crash site in spring 2004 uncovered human remains.

Neither Phillips' wife nor his mother will be at Bonaventure Cemetery. But those who remember him, like Richard, and those who don't, like Stubbs, unborn when her father was killed, will be there. And they will have some peace at last.

"I'm so happy we have some resolution to this," Richard Phillips said. "We finally have an answer."



Family of Vietnam Pilot "Overwhelmed" by Community Support
Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com
From Top Stories From WTOC
06/29/05

The remains of a Vietnam vet shot down almost 40 years ago are one step closer to coming home to Savannah. Today the daughters of Capt. David Phillips, Jr., gathered at American Legion Post 184 in Thunderbolt to remember their father.

They looked through old photographs and memorabilia.

Capt. Phillips was killed on the first day of his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1966. His family never knew what happened to him until a South Vietnamese farmer recently unearthed his grave.

Phillips' oldest daughter is in Hawaii to bring his remains back from the causality identification lab. She will return to Savannah on Friday.

The family says they have received a lot of support from the community since they found out Capt. Phillips was coming home.

"Overwhelmed, very overwhelmed, but I knew I wanted everyone to know," said Phillips' daughter Davida Stubbs. "38 years in foreign soil is a long time and just to have him coming home is unbelievable."

The family is holding a public memorial service for Capt. Phillips this Sunday at Bonaventure Cemetery at 1:15pm. That is the anniversary of the day his plane went down.

He will be buried next to his wife.



Vietnam Pilot's Remains Returning to Savannah
Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com
From Top Stories From WTOC
06/23/05

It's a family tragedy, a war story four decades in the making of a father, missing and likely killed in the Vietnam War. Thanks to the help of a Vietnamese farmer in South Vietnam, the remains of Capt. David Joseph Phillips were found and identified.

His family certainly feels a sense of closure, because all these years they didn't know whether their father was dead or alive and being held as a POW.

Capt. Phillips began his tour of Vietnam on July 3, 1966 and it ended that same day, when his fighter plane was shot down.

"He completed his mission and was on his way back when he was shot down by enemy fire," said his daughter, Davida Stubbs.

Davida never met her father. Her mother was pregnant while her father was deployed, and for 39 years, Davida and her family have wondered if he was dead or alive.

Just yesterday, that question was answered. Human remains and belongings found on a South Vietnam farm in a grave dug by a Vietnamese farmer turned out to be those of Capt. Phillips.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" she said. "You just don't hear that! We were at war with them."

It turns out the plane went down on a farm. The farmer buried Capt. Phillips. That first grave was disturbed by animals.

"So he regathered Dad, buried him in a deeper grave, put a rock on it, painted the rock, and he's done everything he could without getting in trouble to help the Americans find Dad," Davida told us.

So Capt. Phillips will now be buried at Bonaventure Cemetery, and the family wants everyone to celebrate his life and return home to the United States so he can rest in peace.

"I want to see that cemetery packed," said Davida.

The memorial service will be held on July 3, the anniversary of the day his plane went down. It's at Bonaventure Cemetery at 1:15pm and it is open to the public.



Missing pilot from Vietnam War identified
From Air Force Link
6/22/2005

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The remains of an Air Force pilot missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to his family in Savannah Ga., according to the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. A burial service is scheduled for July 3.

Capt. David Phillips Jr. of Miami Beach, Fla., was attacking enemy targets over July 3, 1966, the Kien Giang Province in South Vietnam when his F-5 "Freedom Fighter" was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed. Captain Phillips was unable to eject from his aircraft before the crash, and radio contact was lost. Heavy enemy ground fire prevented an immediate search.

From 1993 to 2000, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams conducted four investigations for information on Captain Phillips' disappearance. Interviews with 10 villagers over seven years led to the probable location of the crash site. One of the teams found fiberglass pieces that were consistent with the survival kit from the ejection seat on an F-5.

During two excavations in 2003 and 2004, human remains, aircrew-related artifacts and personal effects were recovered by teams from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Laboratory analysis of the remains by forensic scientists led to Captain Phillips' identification.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, 1,833 are from the Vietnam War, with 1,397 of those within Vietnam. Another 750 Americans have been accounted for in Southeast Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. Of the Americans identified, 524 are from within Vietnam.

More information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans is available online at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.



Air Force Officer MIA from Vietnam War Identified - 22 Jun No. 632-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jun 22, 2005
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131
Public/Industry Contact: (703) 428-0711

Air Force Officer MIA from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial on July 3 at Savannah Ga.

He is Air Force Capt. David J. Phillips Jr. of Miami Beach, Fla.

On July 3, 1966, Phillips was attacking enemy targets over Kien Giang Province, South Vietnam, when his F-5 "Freedom Fighter" was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed. Phillips was unable to eject from his aircraft before the crash, and radio contact was lost. Heavy enemy ground fire precluded a search at the time.

From 1993 to 2000, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams conducted four investigations for information on Phillips' disappearance. Interviews of 10 villagers over seven years led to the probable location of the crash site. One of the teams found fiberglass pieces that were consistent with the survival kit from the ejection seat on an F-5 aircraft.

During two excavations in 2003 and 2004, human remains, as well as aircrew-related artifacts and personal effects, were recovered by teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). Laboratory analysis of the remains by forensic scientists at JPAC led to Phillips' identification.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm, 1,833 are from the Vietnam War, with 1,397 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 750 Americans have been accounted for in Southeast Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. Of the Americans identified, 524 are from within Vietnam.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

Joined: 23 May 2005
Posts: 20
Location: Mannheim, Germany
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