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  •  Touching story from one of my IGTNT diaries (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, jwinIL14, DaNang65, rudyblues

    about a Vietnam Air Force pilot whose remains were returned home last June.  

    Air Force Lt. Col. Charles M. Walling of Phoenix, Arizona

    The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

    Air Force Lt. Col. Charles M. Walling of Phoenix will be buried June 15 at Arlington National Cemetery. There will be a group burial honoring Walling and fellow crew member, Maj. Aado Kommendant of Lakewood, N.J., at Arlington National Cemetery, on Aug. 8 -- the 46th anniversary of the crash that took their lives.

    On Aug. 8, 1966, Walling and Kommendant were flying an F-4C aircraft that crashed while on a close air support mission over Song Be Province, Vietnam. Other Americans in the area reported seeing the aircraft crash and no parachutes were deployed. Search and rescue efforts were not successful in the days following the crash.   ~ DoD News Release

    Lt. Col. Walling volunteered as a replacement pilot and had hopes of returning home to his 2 year old son and his pregnant wife.  Instead, his family spent years not knowing what really happened to him and without proper closure.

    Twenty-two years ago, Air Force cadet, Amy Santmyer, who is now Lt. Col. Amy Young, decided to wear a MIA bracelet engraved with the name Lt. Col. Charles M. Walling who was a F-4C Phantom pilot shot down in Vietnam.

    MIA bracelets were developed in the 60s to ensure fallen service members would not be forgotten.  

    Amy said:

    I thought it was a very fitting tribute for any particular individual that no matter what else goes on, by wearing an MIA bracelet you ensure that at least one person will remember that individual who's missing, and keep the faith and not give up hope that they're going to come home.
    Lt. Col. Amy Young is now stationed with the 80th Operations Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas where she serves as a T-6 instructor pilot and chief of group scheduling.  

    Recently Amy opened a request from the Pentagon for volunteers to support an upcoming funeral, this day the request was for Lt Col. Charles Walling.

    I was absolutely shocked to see his name. As soon as I processed that he had been recovered, I immediately started making phone calls to confirm that they had actually found him and brought him home.
    Lt. Col Young immediately obtained approval for a four-ship missing man flyover of T-6 Texans at Walling's funeral.  A flyover that she would lead.
    Never would I have imagined to have been fortunate enough to be in a position to be able to do something like this for the family, to help lay him to rest the right way and in an honorable way and to show some tangible thanks from a grateful nation.
    Amy sums it up perfectly:
    One of the greatest commitments our country has made that people may not be aware of is that we will not leave a fallen Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine behind, and this story is a testament to that fact. That after 46 years we finally brought this particular Airman home, to his family. And the entire time that the family was waiting, they were not waiting alone.
     ~Source   ~ Source

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 05:06:33 AM PST

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