Remains identified for Baton Rouge soldier KIA during Vietnam War

Army Captain James M. Johnstone
Army Captain James M. Johnstone

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge soldier will be laid to rest next week, decades after was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

The Department of Defense says Army Captain James M. Johnstone, 28, was piloting a reconnaissance mission over Laos on November 19, 1966, when his plane crashed.  Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.

Shawn Johnstone, who was only six weeks old when her father was killed, says it's interesting how the U.S. government identified her father's remains. When U.S. planes were shot down in the 1960's, Vietnamese villagers would go through the wreckage and take things of value.  Someone found a credit card with Johnstone's name on it and held onto it for more than 40 years, giving it to the Vietnam government in 2007, reopening the search for Captain Johnstone.

Two months into his tour, Johnstone was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor during flight after he was shot in the neck during a mission and was still able to complete his flight.

While people tell Shawn this is closure for her family, she disagrees, saying it has opened the door to learn about her father.

"This couldn't be more of a miracle and a blessing," said Shawn.

Captain Johnstone will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. on December 12.

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