BORAH, DANIEL VERNOR, JR. "DAN"

Name: Daniel Vernor Borah, Jr. "Dan"
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant/US Naval Reserve
Unit: Attack Squadron 155, USS Oriskany (CV-34) 
Date of Birth: 18 June 1946 (Olney, IL)
Home of Record: Olney, IL
Date of Loss: 24 September 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164635N 1072035E (YD140540) 
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Prisoner Of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A7B "Corsair"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:  ALIVE IN CHUTE-NO MORE CONTACT

SYNOPSIS:   The A7 Corsair was the US Navy's single seat, light attack jet aircraft which featured advanced radar, navigation and weapons systems, and could carry a 15,000 pound bomb load. The A7E with its more powerful TF-41 turbofan engine, was the most advanced version of the Corsair to fly combat missions in Southeast Asia. The Corsair was also flown by Air Force and Marine air wings.

On 24 September 1972, Lt. Daniel V. Borah, Jr., pilot, launched from the deck of the USS Oriskany as the flight leader in a flight of two aircraft on a day strike mission against enemy targets located in dense jungle approximately 15 miles south of the DMZ and 23 miles east of the ill-defined South Vietnamese/Laotian border. After crossing the Vietnamese coastline, the Corsairs were directed to the target area by the Forward Air Controller (FAC). Their target included North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops who were entrenched in bunkers roughly 13 miles west-northwest of the city of Quang Tri and 25 miles west of the coastline, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

At 1350 hours, and under the operational control of the on-site Forward Air Controller (FAC), Lt. Borah and his wingman began their initial bombing run as briefed. Due to an improper switch setting, the wingman expended his entire ordnance load on his first pass instead of the several attack runs that had been planned. He then proceeded to a holding position at 13,000 feet over the target to observe Lt. Borah's succeeding bombing runs.

During Dan Borah's second run, his aircraft was seen to draw a barrage of 37mm anti-aircraft fire. His wingman radioed for him to take evasive action, then almost immediately saw the Corsair burst into flames. The FAC saw Borah eject safely from the aircraft and descend in a good parachute. His wingman established emergency radio contact with the downed pilot for 10-15 seconds after he safely landed on the ground. During his last voice contact, Dan Borah radioed: "Gomer…all around…" While search and rescue (SAR) efforts commenced immediately, no further contact could be established with him over the next two days. On 26 September SAR operations were terminated. Shortly thereafter, intelligence reports were received by our government confirming that NVA soldiers removed Lt. Borah's parachute from a tree within 30 minutes of his landing on the ground. At the time SAR efforts were terminated, Daniel V. Borah, Jr. was listed Missing in Action.

On 19 October 1972, the US government received information that confirmed Daniel Borah had, in fact, been captured and was a Prisoner of War. His status was immediately changed from Missing In Action to Prisoner Of War, and his family notified accordingly.

In 1991, 17 color photographs depicting an American Prisoner of War were taken in Laos and brought to the US. After an extensive search among POW/MIA families, Dan Borah's parents saw the photos and immediately recognized their son. To confirm the identity of Lt. Borah and the man in the 1991 photos to be one and the same, experts were asked to compare those pictures with pre-capture family photos of Dan Borah along with photos of other family members which were used to aid in the identification process. The results of those tests were positive. In an attempt to discredit the 1991 photos and downplay the live POW issue, the Laotian and US governments rapidly produced a Laotian highland tribesman, named "Mr. Ahroe." Both governments claimed he was the man photographed in the now famous 1991 pictures, and said the photos were part of an elaborate scheme to swindle money from POW/MIA families. Both governments also attempted to use this situation to disprove the existence of living Prisoners of War remaining in Southeast Asia today.

Again the family took both the original 1991 photos and the new pictures to experts in Still Digital Imaging analysis to verify if they were pictures of the same man, or as they believed, two different men. The results of that study state: "Both individuals are similar in basic appearance, however upon concentrated examination it becomes obvious that the similarity is just that: a similarity."

In November 1994, General James Wold, then Director of the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO), met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr. Cong, of the Vietnam Office Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP). During that meeting Gen. Wold was informed that information on 5 cases, including that of Dan Borah, would be provided by the end of the year. On 14 August 1995, 8 months after that promise, a Vietnamese witness was presented to US Officials. Mr. Toan dutifully reported he knew of "a pilot who was found dead in his parachute and buried nearby on 24 September 1972."

In early 1996, rumors began to circulate in the private sector about the remains of an American pilot shot down late in the war in Quang Tri Province and buried in full flight suit had been located and recovered. Soon afterward the Borah family was notified that Joint Task Force - Full Accounting (JTF-FA) had, indeed, recovered a set of remains during the 40th Joint Field Activity (23-31 March 1996), that the remains were found in full flight suit including survival vest, and that JTF-FA believed those remains belonged to Dan Borah. His family also learned of Mr. Toan, the Vietnamese witness who led JTF-FA investigators to the burial site.

During the grave site excavation, JTF-FA personnel recovered some 19 teeth, 3 long bones and various unidentifiable bone chips and shards along with virtually in tact clothing. All recovered material was transported to the Central Identification Laboratory - Hawaii (CIL-HI) for possible identification on 21 May 1997. CIL-HI determined that due to the poor condition of the bones caused by many years of being buried in acidic soil, none of them could be used for anthropological analysis. They did rule, however, upon thorough examination of the 19 teeth, that all of them absolutely matched Lt. Borah's dental records.

The Borah family requested an independent analyses of CIL-HI's finding and was promptly, forcefully and repeatedly informed by USG officials the only way that would ever happen was if the family accepted the remains - and thereby accepting their positive identification of those remains as Dan Borah's - first. If the family did not accept CIL-Hi's identification, then the remains, flight suit, etc, would be placed in a box on a shelf at CIL-HI and the family would never again have access to them. Further, the USG would publicly announce their findings that Lt. Borah's remains were recovered and identified thereby closing his case publicly as well as officially. The family chose to secure the remains for further examination and testing rather than allow the government to "win by default." The results of their efforts are truly astounding.

First, the teeth may not all be from the same person. One of them in particular has a very pronounced shape that is characteristic only of someone of American Indian ancestry. Dan Borah has no American Indian in him. Also, according to private sector experts, CIL-HI dental personnel ignored the fact that their dental match was successful only if the teeth were moved to the other side of the mouth. The family's dentist who took care of the entire family retired years ago. The family was successful in tracking down his records, including x-rays, which had been archived. Interestingly, all family members records were found intact except for the Navy aviator's. The dental records provided by the USG are suspect for many reasons not the least of which is none of the normal personal data stenciled on the x-ray or x-ray sleeve is present. Because of this, there is no way to know who those x-rays actually belong to.

United States Naval aviators traditionally fly in a one piece flight suit. The "full flight suit" recovered with the remains from the grave site in Vietnam is not one piece, but rather a shirt and pants. Dan Borah weighed 200 pounds and was prone to easy weight gain. His family always teased him about his ability to fit into a jet fighter's cockpit. To quote Lt. Borah's sister who is much smaller than he was, "the pants would barely fit me. They would never fit him." Further, all rank designations, unit patches and the American flag that at one time had been sewn onto this garment had been carefully cut off making it impossible to determine any real connection between this "flight suit" and its' owner. CIL-HI experts stated that the acidic soil of Vietnam is what destroyed the bones making them useless for identification purposes. That same soil should have totally destroyed the much more flimsy material of the flight suit, with the possible exception of the zippers, that Dan Borah was supposedly buried in. Again, according to Lt. Borah's sister, today "you could put that flight suit on and wear it on the street. It looks no worse than if it had been attacked by angry moths in the back of a closet."

Based on the USG's own intelligence records dating from the date of incident, there is no question Dan Borah was captured alive and held prisoner by communist forces. The real question today is: Is he still surviving in spite of the USG's claims to the contrary?

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

While the USG considers Dan Borah to be "remains returned," his family does not. They ask that Americans continue to wear his POW/MIA bracelets and help them fight for an honorable accounting for him.