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Green Beret missing for 47 years laid to rest at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery

By Steve Elliott | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 14, 2018

502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs —

The family of Army Maj. Donald G. Carr got some long-awaited closure as the remains of the Green Beret were laid to rest at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery May 11.

Carr served three tours in Vietnam, executing both reconnaissance and exploitation missions for a highly secretive unit known as the Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG. As one of his duties several days a week, the highly decorated captain flew in the backseat of an Air Force forward air controller, supporting the teams on the ground with close air support and artillery fire missions.

Carr was declared missing in action after his OV-10A Bronco aircraft crashed July 6, 1971, during bad weather. He was on the flight as an observer assigned to the Mobile Launch Team 3, 5th Special Forces Group, supporting an eight-man Special Forces reconnaissance team.

During the mission, after encountering the bad weather, the ground team heard an explosion to their northeast, which was believed to be the OV-10A. They failed to find the crash site, however, and Carr, who was 32 at the time, was declared missing in action.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said between September 1991 and March 2014, joint U.S. and Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic teams conducted more than 25 investigations and site surveys, but could not locate his remains. The agency announced May 4 that Carr would be buried with full military honors.

Authorities had been searching for his remains for years. In 2014, a Vietnamese citizen contacted American officials with information about an American’s soldier’s remains. The remains were identified as Carr’s through DNA testing.

The major’s son, Don Carr Jr., and his family were in attendance at the memorial service at the Gift Chapel at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and the burial service.

“It was a phone call that I received a few years back that I truly never expected to receive. And I don’t think people understand how the military keeps looking for these lost soldiers. It’s truly an amazing thing,” Carr Jr. said.

Carr Jr., who was six years old when his father disappeared, said his mother passed away four weeks ago and won’t be able to experience the closure he feels. He said she knew his father’s remains had been found, but the investigation was incomplete when she died.

“We call this ceremony a ‘welcome home ceremony’ for our Vietnam veterans,” said J.R. Garza, a past Commander for Disabled American Veterans.

“This is one of the last remaining MIAs from San Antonio,” Garza said. “There’s still nine of them – nine more out there who have not been recovered.”

“It’s very important for Carr to be back home in San Antonio, where he grew up,” said retired Army Capt. Mike Minerva, who served with Carr at Fort Ord, Calif., when both were second lieutenants. “This is a reminder of the friendship and kinship I had with him.”

Minerva had some words for those families who are still searching for their loved ones from past military conflicts. “Don’t ever give up on the missing. As we see here, we will do whatever it takes to bring them home again.”

Currently there are 1,598 American servicemen and civilians from the Vietnam War still declared missing. Their names are recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Carr’s name, which is part of the memorial, will now include a rosette to indicate he had been accounted for.