Remains found nearly 50 years ago in Arizona identified as a Vietnam veteran from Minnesota

Published 7:51 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Human remains found nearly 50 years ago in the Flagstaff area have been identified as a Vietnam veteran originally from Minnesota, authorities said Wednesday.

Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said the remains were those of Gerald Francis Long but the cause of death cannot be determined.

Long’s skeletal remains were discovered in April 1975 about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of Flagstaff by farmers chasing a runaway pig. Despite numerous leads over the years, none resulted in a positive identification.

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In August 2023, sheriff’s officials contracted with a Salt Lake City company to identify the remains through a forensic genetic genealogy process. Long was identified early this year, and sheriff’s detectives contacted a surviving family member.

Detectives learned that Long enlisted in the Army in January 1969 and deployed to Vietnam that year. He returned to Minnesota in February 1972 and was discharged a month later.

In October 1972, Long told his family he was leaving Minnesota and heading to the West Coast. That was the last time they saw him.