It is only the second time such a search mission was canceled since they began in 1985. The other was in November 1999, when a mission was canceled because of severe flooding in central Vietnam.
The U.S. military organization that conducts the searches issued a statement Monday night from its headquarters in Hawaii saying canceling the May 3-June 1 search will allow both the U.S. and Vietnamese governments time to assess the cause of the helicopter accident in Vietnam and rebuild a search capability.
Among those killed were the outgoing commander of the Hanoi-based unit that conducts the MIA searches, Army Lt. Col. Rennie Cory Jr., as well as the man who was to replace him in July, Army Lt. Col. George D. Martin III. Also killed was the deputy commander, Air Force Maj. Charles E. Lewis.
They were scouting sites where search activity was to begin May 3.
There are 1,981 Americans unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said after the April 7 accident that the effort to recover remains will continue.
©MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed