SAN DIEGO (AP) — Deborah Crosby touched her father’s flag-draped casket as her three brothers hugged her in a tearful embrace on the tarmac at the San Diego airport Friday — ending a more than half century search to find and bring home the remains of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick P. Crosby, shot down as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War.
Deborah Crosby, now 58, was only six when she was sent home from the first grade to learn her father was presumed dead, though his body had not been found.
Her mother could never talk about that day, but she gave Crosby and her brothers a binder with articles about her father’s plane zooming low through the clouds on a bomb damage assessment mission before it was gunned down by North Vietnamese ground forces in 1965. The 31-year-old pilot was armed only with cameras, his daughter said.
Crosby and her grandmother made a pact to someday bring home her father’s remains and bury him in his hometown of San Diego.
A year ago, military investigators found his remains in a fish pond in north Vietnam. On Friday, Deborah Crosby fulfilled her promise to her late grandmother.
Passengers watched through the windows of a Delta Air Lines jet as the flag-draped casket was removed from the hold by six sailors.
Deborah Crosby walked forward, touched the casket and embraced her three brothers. The aviator’s elderly sister, Sharon, and brother, David, also hugged, and he wiped an eye.
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