On March 7, 2016 (the day before what would have been his 70th birthday), the family of Special Forces SGT Alan Boyer received news that his remains had been identified and were coming home. The only surviving member of his immediate family is his sister, Judi Boyer Bouchard, who has never stopped searching for her brother. She describes the pain of not knowing what happened to her brother: “When you don’t know, it’s just like this open wound, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about Alan and wonder what happened.” Before their parents died, they too remained hopeful that one day their son would be found.

Unknown

The following was written by Judi Bouchard to her friends and family:

“On March 16, 2 Army Special Forces soldiers, the Chief of Casualty operations Center for the Army (Mr. Mee) & 2 other Defense Department personnel (one was Gen. (Ret) Michael Linnington, Director Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), and the other Jack Kull, who while working for DPAA became a dear family friend)-5 total– came to our home to give me the official report. The remains had been given by 3 Lao Nationals (remains traders) to an activist in Laos who turned them in. The DNA match to the samples Mom & I gave many years ago were truly amazing. The lab said it is the strongest match they have seen yet!  I received a thick report with many more details.  I was also presented with Alan’s medals –including the Silver Star (3rdhighest military decoration awarded) and Purple Heart.”

After 40 years of being listed as MIA, his leg bone was identified through DNA by matching the samples his sister and mother provided years ago. Bouchard revealed that the official Army report indicated that a woman turned in a leg bone that was given to her by three Lao nationals known as ‘remains traders.’ The cause and circumstances of his death are still unknown. They had hoped he was still alive, as rumors and sightings of POWs still exist in Laos.

SGT Boyer’s interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a later date.

The last day Alan Boyer was seen alive

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On March 28, 1968, SGT Alan L. Boyer, SGT Charles G. Huston, and SFC George R. Brown were conducting a reconnaissance patrol in Laos (15 miles inside Laos, northeast of Tchepone), along with seven Vietnamese personnel as part of the 5th Special Forces Group that was attached to MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group).

While under heavy fire, the men were attempting to exfiltrate the area by aircraft. The helicopter, unable to land due to heavy vegetation and terrain, attempted lifting the men up with a rope ladder. Once the Vietnamese personnel boarded, the three Green Berets attempted to reach the aircraft, but they began receiving heavy automatic weapons fire. As SGT Boyer began to climb the ladder, it broke, which cut off the lifeline for the three remaining men. The helicopter left due to the heavy gunfire.

On April 1, 1968, a six-hour search-and-rescue mission found no trace of the three missing Special Forces soldiers. After the failed search and rescue mission, their families were notified that their status was now considered MIA. In 1984, a Laos refugee reportedly stated that three men died from a Vietnamese ambush in that same area and were later buried. The remains of SGT Charles G. Huston and SFC George R. Brown have not yet been found.

According to POW Network,

“Boyer, Huston and Brown are among the nearly 600 Americans missing in Laos. When the war ended, agreements were signed releasing American Prisoners of War from Vietnam. Laos was not part of the peace agreement, and although the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held “tens of tens” of prisoners, not a single American held in Laos has ever been released.”

Sources: POW Network, The Missoulian