Winamac man missing from Vietnam War identified
U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Richard W. Podell, missing from the Vietnam War, has now been identified.
On June 9, 1967, Capt. Richard W. Podell, a navigator, along with two pilots, and three aircrew members assigned to 29th Troop Carrier Squadron, 463rd Troop Carrier Wing, 7th Air Force were flying a lead C-130B aircraft on routine shuttle flights from Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, to several airfields in southern Vietnam. At Nha Trang Air Base, they picked up classified cargo and the remains of two deceased individuals: one American soldier and one member of the Republic of Korea Army, as well as four escorts. The aircraft returned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base and was on approach for landing when it had to vector around an artillery firing zone. Shortly after making normal radio contact, the aircraft crashed in a swampy area approximately 12 miles east of Tan Son Nhut Air Base.
On June 10, 1967, the Tan Son Nhut, or TSN, Mortuary sent a team to recover the remains of the missing crew members and passengers. Subsequently, the TSN Mortuary identified five individuals, but were unable to individually identify the remaining six Americans.
To identify Podell’s remains, scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. On Sept. 10, 2018, DPAA officially identified the remains of Podell.
Capt. Richard W. Podell was born July 28, 1938, in Franklin Township, Pulaski County, to Isadore L. and Martha Lucille Hendry. Podell was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church at Denham. He was a graduate of Winamac High School and Indiana State College at Terre Haute. On July 10, 1965, Richard married Elaine Beard in Pasadena, Texas. The couple had one son, Douglas Richard Podell.
Support from the government and people of Vietnam was vital to the success of this recovery.