Sailors missing after '67 Vietnam crash buried at Arlington
By CARLOS BONGIOANNI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 3, 2013
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. – A burial service with full military honors was held at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, May 2, 2013, for four sailors declared missing after their SH-3A Sea King helicopter crashed in Vietnam on July 19, 1967.
The remains of the four sailors – Lt. Dennis Peterson, Ensign Donald Frye, Petty Officers 2nd Class William Jackson and Donald McGrane – were recovered through search and identification efforts that spanned several decades.
The remains of the four were buried together in the same casket, because “they were shot down together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Veronica DaSilva who attended Thursday’s burial after escorting the remains from Hawaii to Arlington. “That’s how they decided to do that over at JPAC,” DaSilva said referring to the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command whose mission is to account for Americans who are listed as Prisoners Of War, or Missing in Action, from all past wars and conflicts.
The accounting of POWs and MIAs often is a lengthy process, said DaSilva who is assigned to Navy Casualty, a department at the Navy’s main personnel hub at Millington, Tenn. “The process involves identifying the remains, notifying the next of kin. One of the pilots wasn’t turned over to us until last year, 2012. It’s a process to make sure they have everything correct, that they’ve identified everybody correctly. Once that’s all done, then they’ll release it.”
During Thursday’s ceremony, the casket with the four sets of remains was transferred to the burial site by a horse-drawn caisson. Members of the U.S. Navy Band performed ceremonial music. A firing party gave a gun salute for the fallen. And a large contingent from the Navy Ceremonial Guard were on hand to escort the family members and attend the service of their fallen comrades.
U.S. Navy Band members followed by a horse-drawn caisson lead a procession Thursday, May, 2, 2013, at Arlington National Cemetery, where a burial service was held for four Vietnam War veterans whose missing remains were accounted for after extensive search and identification efforts that spanned several decades.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES