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59 years later, a Vietnam War era aviation mystery endures

Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 (Image courtesy of Wreaths Across America)


History would have you believe that the name of every soldier lost in the Vietnam War is contained on a monument in our nation’s Capitol.  But that’s not the case for Dianna Crumpler, whose brother–James Henry Taylor–and 103 brave souls were lost when Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 disappeared in March of 1962.  It would become one of the biggest aviation mysteries of the Vietnam War.

“They were told (the families of some of the soldiers aboard the flight) by the soldiers that they possibly wouldn’t be coming back,” Crumpler divulged during an interview on The Gallo Radio Show on SuperTalk Mississippi.  “We were never told that.  He just hugged us and off he went.  I don’t believe–I don’t want to believe–that he thought that himself.”

Due to the circumstances surrounding the secret mission, the names of the lost have never been added to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.  But when Morrill Worcester of the non-profit Wreaths Across America learned of the families plight, he took it upon himself to see that a monument was erected.  It was during the unveiling of that monument that Dianna and other families began to share their stories.

Dianna’s brother–as far as she knew–was studying to be a Minister.  Is it possible he never divulged that his training went beyond that?  “Well, I didn’t think so.  Until I heard from some of the other people.  It seems that they were training–they were going to train–in Vietnam for jungle warfare and also communications skills that he’d gained during his first tour-of-duty.  I was also asked several years ago if he was C.I.A.  I think that this mission had something to do with the C.I.A.,” she told us.

While efforts to get the names of those onboard etched into the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial haven’t succeeded yet, the families aren’t giving up.  But now they have their own monument.

The land where the monument was erected was donated by WAA Founder Morrill Worcester.  It’s located on the balsam tip land where brush is harvested each year to make veterans’ wreaths to be placed on the headstones of our nation’s heroes on National Wreaths Across America Day. “When I first heard the story about this mission, I was shocked to learn that nothing has been done for these families,” said Worcester. “I said that day, that we would do something to make sure these people are honored and remembered, and to hopefully give some closure to these families.”

For a more in-depth look at this enduring mystery:

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