Disposition of Remains

The CENTRAL JOINT MORTUARY AFFAIRS OFFICE (CJMAO) is responsible for the Disposition of Remains recovered from site excavations. The sites are given incident (REFNO) numbers associated with a particular loss recorded during the Vietnam War. For Pete Matthes and the other crew members, they use REFNO 1530. CJMAO appoints an Armed Forces Identification Review Board which reviews 'available data' and reports of the Central Identification Laboratory-HI (CILHI). The hearings are closed to the public, including family members, and no minutes are available. Direct contact with the board concerning what data was considered is not allowed. The Board then makes recommendations to CJMAO concerning identification of remains. CJMAO then communicates with the family members concerning the findings of the Review Board and makes the necessary funeral arrangements.

It took almost three years from the time Pete's crash site was located and excavated until his 'commingled-remains' were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. During that time, the Military generated a huge amount of so-called documentation. I have read all of it and there is no convincing evidence that Pete's remains were recovered or that he died in that crash.

As you look through these pages, you will see conclusions that were based on assumptions and suppositions. There was an inordinate amount of time spent on minor details such as part numbers of aircraft pieces, while attempts to identify individuals from bone fragments were minimized. There are glaring inconsistencies and omissions. If this case were heard in a civil court, it would be dismissed for lack of evidence and improper disclosure.

Whenever possible, I have used an image of the actual document to preserve its authenticity. Nearly all of the documents came from CJOMA.

  2 OCT 95... The Armed Forces Review Board met to review all relevant data pertaining to Group Remains 3-94 (CILHI 0208-93C).
  8 MAY 94... ENCLOSURE 6: Forensic Report, Dr. Maples concludes that... "The remains, recovered by the joint American-Laotian team at the crash site, were incomplete and in bad condition.".
  10 MAY 94... ENCLOSURE 5: Forensic Report, Dr. Levine, D.D.S. Levine concludes that... "There is no biological evidence that can be associated with an individual with scientific certainty by dental, anthropologic, radiographic or other methods."
  03 MAY 94... ENCLOSURE 7: Forensic Report, Dr. Rathbun. Rathbun concludes that..."no exclusive identification of any of the remains in CILHI 0208-93C appears possible within reasonable scientific certainty. Considering the 'preponderance of evidence', the recommendation for consolidation of the biological remains into CILHI Group Remains 3-94 appears to be the appropriate one. Inclusion of the dental prosthesis designated CILHI 0208-93B and associated with Captain Brown seems acceptable."
  27 MAY 94... ENCLOSURE 8: Proposed Identification of Remains, Jimmie C. Schmidt, Director of CILHI. Although CILHI cannot identify anyone from dental records, bone fragments, or pistol serial numbers, they conclude that the remains include Capt Earl C. Brown, Maj Peter R. Matthes, Maj Michael D. Balamoti, Lt Col Richard O. Ganley, CMSgt Donald L. Wright, CMSgt Larry I. Grewell, CMSgt Rexford J. DeWispelaere, and CMSgt Charles R. Fellenz.