The Pentagon says it has identified remains belonging to Lt. Col. Alton C. Rockett Jr., who was listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War. The Birmingham, Ala., native and his copilot Capt. Daniel L. Carrier were part of a two-ship F-4C mission over North Vietnam that had turned to fly back to base, when the lead fighter pilot saw a fireball in his mirror. Attempts to contact Rockett and Carrier by radio proved futile. The location prevented search and rescue attempts. In 1989, Vietnam repatriated sets of remains, along with documents believed to be those of Rockett and Carrier and one other. However, Rockett’s remains could not be positively identified. Subsequent investigations over several years and receipt in 2003 of a DNA sample from a relative finally led to identification of the 1989 remains as belonging to Rockett.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.