Navy Lt. William E. Swanson
CRYSTAL, Minn. - After 47 years, Navy Lt. William E. Swanson will finally be laid to rest with military honors.
"It will be a pretty emotional day," says Lt. Swanson's brother Bob Swanson. "We're bringing him home and giving him a final resting place."
On Monday, Lt. Swanson's remains will be given a permanent home after nearly five decades in Vietnam. On April 11, 1965, Swanson was the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider aircraft and nearing the end of his tour, but he would never make it back home. His plane was hit by enemy fire over Khammouan Province, Laos.
"It took a gentle turn and crashed into the jungle," says Swanson. "At the time, we didn't think about the possibility of his remains being recovered."
But the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced this week that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, had been identified as 27-year old Lt. Bill Swanson and are being returned for proper burial.
"It's comforting to know that people still care," said Swanson who now prepares for a service at Fort Snelling National Cemetery Monday.
In 2009, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic team was surveying the site and found small pieces of aircraft wreckage from the same plane Swanson had been flying. Scientists from the team then used material evidence to identify Swanson's remains.
"When we got that call it was like...wow," recalls Swanson. "Now he will receive the honors he deserves."
The service will be held Monday at 12:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Bob Swanson says he'll now turn his attention to supporting families who continue on with very few details regarding loved ones. Currently, there are over 1,100 soldiers still missing in Vietnam.
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