J. Forrest George Trembley – Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

  • Date of Birth: 5/28/1942
  • Date of Casualty: 8/21/1967
  • Home of Record: SPOKANE, WASHINGTON
  • Branch of Service: NAVY
  • Rank: LCDR
  • Casualty Country: NORTH VIETNAM
  • Casualty Province: NZ
  • Status: MIA

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 289-05
March 25, 2005

Missing In Action Serviceman Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Navy Lieutenant Commander J. Forrest G. Trembley of Spokane, Washington, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on April 1, 2005.

On August 21, 1967, Trembley and his fellow crewman took off in their A-6A *Intruder* from the U.S.S. Constellation on a strike mission against the Duc Noi rail yards near Hanoi, North Vietnam.  On leaving the target area, their aircraft and another one in the flight were attacked by enemy MiGs.  When last seen, the two aircraft were disappearing into the clouds near the Vietnamese-Chinese border.  The last radio message from Trembley indicated the MiGs were in hot pursuit, but no further communications were heard.

Later that day, the Chinese government reported that two U.S. A-6s had been shot down over the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  The broadcast noted that one of the four crewmen had been captured but the other three died in the shoot down.  The Chinese released the surviving crewman in March 1973.

With the assistance of the Chinese government, a joint U.S.-PRC team interviewed witnesses to the shoot down and crash in 1993 and 1999.  U.S. specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a Chinese citizen near the crash site.  He turned over Trembley’s identification tag and fragmentary human remains alleged to be those of American pilots.  The team recovered some pilot’s gear from a burial site, but found no additional human remains.

Scientists of the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to identify the remains as those of Trembley.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam War, with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam.  Another 747 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo, or call 703-699-1169.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Vietnam-era naval officer to be buried in Arlington

By Alex Fryer
Courtesy of the Seattle Times

More than 37 years after Navy Lieutenant Commander J. Forrest G. Trembley failed to return from a bombing mission over North Vietnam, his remains will come home to Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon announced yesterday.

A Spokane native and grandson of a Washington Supreme Court judge, Trembley was shot down by Chinese fighters August 21, 1967, after his A-6A aircraft strayed into Chinese airspace. He was 26.

Another A-6A on the mission also was brought down.

Trembley's last radio dispatch indicated Chinese planes were in hot pursuit after a strike against a rail yard near Hanoi.

Later that day, the Chinese government announced that two U.S. planes had been shot down and three of the four crewmen had been killed.

The surviving airman was released in March 1973.

In 1993, Chinese government officials passed along two photographs showing a military identification card bearing Trembley's picture and the upper torso of a body.

Then, in 1999, specialists with the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a Chinese citizen who turned over Trembley's identification tag and fragmentary human remains.

Scientists with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory matched the sample with a sample from Trembley's sister, Catherine Trembley, of Spokane.

“In 1993, we got a picture that put it to rest for me, and I think for all of us,” Catherine Trembley told The Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane.

“By then we were pretty sure he had been killed in action. It's good to have resolution. It's been a long time, and it's hard on families. I just wish it had come when my parents were here.”

Trembley's father died in 1974, and his mother died 10 years later. He is survived by his wife, who remarried in 1974; a son, Forrest Trembley Ehlinger; and a sister, Catherine. Burial services will be in Arlington on April 1, 2005.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/28/1942
  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/21/1967
  • BURIED AT: SECTION 66  SITE 2809-1

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment