Always a Sad Day – January 10, 1970

e54f4a4b-14c5-485a-a31e-5c26f3cc5673It’s hard every year on this day, even though it’s been 49 years ago. Forty-nine years just doesn’t seem possible but it is. My brother, Herby, died in a tragic casualty of war. The Vietnam War. He and his crew were lost, listing Missing in Action.

firebird nine one crew pencil drawingI can remember the turmoil, the shock, the tears, oh the tears and crying in the house. And, back in 1970, civilians didn’t get much, if any good information from the government…everything was classified.

Thirty seven years of never giving up hope, for searching every means my parents could, our family became one of the lucky ones. Remains had been repatriated in 1986 (teeth, a couple bone shards, and his dog tag). Those remains were identified using DNA from my sister and me in 2006 (a tooth), and 2011 (five more teeth and two bone shards). We buried his remains in Arlington National Cemetery May 2007 and April 2011, full military honors with helicopter flyover.

I thank God every day for his return home, and those of his crew who have also been identified and buried in American soil.

It’s always a day of reflection. What if? What if he came home? What if? Sometimes I make those what ifs like a dream. Of course, we deal with reality, and again, I’m thankful for what we did get back of him. I have friends who are still waiting and hoping. Never give up hope.

Dad and Mom are with him now so all is good, really. They are the ones who suffered so much more than anyone else.

I have so limited photographs of Herby, yet today I pulled out a couple from when he was on leave in 1968. Just normal time at the dinner table and him all decked out for a date. I had gotten a camera for Christmas so took photos every chance I got.

Never would realize those would be some of the last photos of him at home.

“Dear Herby,

Missing you. I’m doing what I can to give back to all your fellow comrades and I still support the National League of Families. I wear your dog tag to every event/outing that pertains to you or our veterans. I’m friends with your comrades and buddies from Vietnam, and boy do they have the stories. You’d love to hear them. They miss you too. Meeting and knowing them is one of the best outcomes of your loss ever. I call them my gift from you. Lost one brother but you gave me a whole Assault Helicopter Company of brothers!

You still get attention even after all the years. People contact me who wear your POW/MIA bracelet. Their support is amazing.  You were honored by one of your comrades, Frank Anton, former POW, at the Memorial Day Ceremony last year at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. I’m a volunteer for the cemetery, can you believe that? Volunteering there is teaching me more than I ever expected about military burials and you wouldn’t believe the folks I’m meeting, everyone from generals to the grunts on the ground. They all have amazing stories.  You’re also helping young Army ROTC Cadets reach their educational and military dreams come true.  You’re never forgotten Herby, never.

Oh yeah, I’ll be coming up to Arlington to visit you on your birhtday. I’m riding up with the Rolling Thunder on their last Memorial Day Demonstration Ride in Washington, D.C. Will tell you all about it when I’m there.

Thinking of you today and remembering fun times years ago growing up. All is good here. I’ve been truly blessed because of you, tragically so, but you know, I’d rather have you here.  See ya later. Clear Right!


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