The Pentagon has identified the remains of Capt. Stephen A. Rusch of Lambertville, N.J., who was listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War. During a March 7, 1972 mission, Rusch was a weapons systems officer on an F-4E attacking enemy targets in Laos. The flight-lead F-4 lost sight of Rusch’s aircraft on its second pass but noted ground fire and a large explosion. Attempts to make radio contact failed, as did later search efforts. Interviews in 1995 led to a crash site and discovery of aircraft wreckage. US officials received a bone fragment and photocopy of Rusch’s ID tag in 2001, but tests showed the bone was not from Rusch. Subsequent excavations at the crash site in 2002 and 2003 uncovered remains that did prove to be his.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.