Vietnam War Casualty List - State Level
There is some decent information in the video. Specifically that he was wearing black jungle boots with the name John Durfee stenciled in them (see article below video) and that he was born in Bluefield West Virginia.
According to another article John Durfee was located and said he sold the boots to a Chicago pawn shop.
Identity of man killed by a drunk driver still unknown after almost half a century
By GREG JORDAN Bluefield Daily Telegraph Feb 5, 2018
GHENT — Almost 50 years ago, a young pedestrian hiking along the U.S. 19-21 bypass near Beckley was killed when a drunk driver struck him, but today he remains unidentified. Aside from old newspaper stories, the only reminder of his existence is a gravestone in a Flat Top cemetery.
The memorial at the Tom Lilly Cemetery near Flat Top bears the words “Known Only to God,” “Unknown Male” along with the date of his death – July 23, 1972 – and his probable age, which was between 19 and 21 years old. Today people are still attempting to identify this young man and bring closure to his family, Vernon L. Simmons, a retired Norfolk Police Department captain said.
The accident which claimed the life of “John Doe” occurred on the U.S. 19-21 bypass near Beckley, according to Daily Telegraph reports from that year. Before the pedestrian accident, the man had caught a ride with a passing motorist who later told the West Virginia State Police about how the man said that he was returning to the Bluefield area from Chicago, and that the reason behind his trip was to obtain a birth certificate. According to this witness, the man walked about a half a mile before he was hit by another driver and killed instantly.
In 1972, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph published stories that offer details about this unknown man. The West Virginia State Police described him as a white American male, believed to be between 18 and 20 years old. He was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed between 160 and 165 pounds. His hair was described as “reddish brown,” Simmons said. His only distinguishing feature was a laceration on his left foot which was described as being similar to a glass cut: it was healed and showed no sign of sutures. The young man’s photograph was once available, but finding it after almost 50 years would be difficult.
Back in August 1972, investigators said the man’s clothes didn’t have any identification except for a pair of jungle boots with the name “John Durfee” stenciled on them. John Durfee was later located; he had sold the boots to a Chicago pawn shop. Simmons said his research has indicated that the unknown man could have been a runaway youth from the Chicago area.
People who believe that they could have information relating to the case can contact Simmons at 757-436-0219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com
Unsolved Case, 72-13
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A phone call to the Bandon Police Department, at 8:05 PM, August 26, 1972, opened a case for an unidentified person. A resident, Ronald Dale Whitted discovered the remains while pealing Chittam trees in a wooded area to the east of Highway 101 in north Bandon. Bandon Police officers, Franson and Hester responded to the scene. A call was placed to the Medical Examiner. By 8:50 PM, Deputy Sheriff John Dehart arrived at the scene, followed shortly thereafter by Coos County Sheriff Tony Zarbano and Bandon Police Chief McDonald. At 10:30 PM, the site was secured for the night, with Deputy Dehart, Chief McDonald, Officers Franson, Hester and Seawright resuming the scene investigation at 7:30 AM.
After carefully measuring and photographing the site, the remains were carefully bagged and marked. The site was then gone over with a metal detector. The remains were sent to the Oregon State Police Crime Detection Lab in Eugene OR. The forensic report dated August 29, 1972, states:
1. Victim is a Caucasian male, approximately 5'8".
2. Date of Death, approximately 3-5 years prior
3. Age at death: 60 years to 70 years.
4. Unknown color of hair and eyes.
5. Cause of death; gunshot to the head.
A bullet hole was evident in the right temple area. A 22 caliber bullet was found in the cavity, and a similar one removed from the right frontal bone. No weapon was found at the site.
Personal items found were scraps of the clothing, 7" lace up men's boots, work type, tan with a tag reading "Bilt Rite, Nuron Crepe, Made in USA", the soles were white crepe, a belt buckled at 42". No other identification was found.
The victim had a full set of dentures, engraved with "S1214/66". It is speculated that these indicate that the dentures were made for a patient, in Seattle (S) by the US Public Health Service Hospital, in 1966 (/66) This could be the best lead to the victim's identity. The USPHSH is now closed. The hospital was established to care for service men and families. This leads to the speculation that he was in the military or Merchant Marine at some point.
Using the age estimate from the Crime Lab, John Doe was born between 1902 and 1912. He would have been too young for WWI. Since the draft was in effect when he reached age 18, he was probably drafted into one of the services. He would have entered the military between 1920 and 1930. Since the Great Depression came in the 1930's, he could have stayed in after his tour, or because of previous service, could have been recalled in 1941. He may have joined the Merchant Marines after service and served in that capacity during WWII. He could have been from 5'8" to 6', weighed approximately 180-200 lbs. Hair was probably graying, or gray.
John Doe could have come from anywhere in the country or he could have been a west coast resident. Perhaps his family moved to the west coast during the 30's from the midwest because of the Dust Bowl days.
This man has gone unidentified for over 31 years. Somewhere there is a family wondering what happened to their father, grandfather, uncle. It is time to find his family and to help his family find closure to a mystery they have lived with all this time. It is time for him to go home. If you have a half-forgotten memory of something you saw or heard, about the death or the person(s) responsible for it, help him.
If John Doe looks somewhat like a member of your family that has disappeared, or you any information about the dentures or the case, please contact:
Bandon Police Department
Case # 72-13
Web Page November 19, 2003
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