So hard to believe it was 51 years ago today my brother, Capt. Herbert C Crosby, Firebird Nine One, and crew went down in Vietnam. Helicopter has still not been located, yet the remains of him and his crew made it back to American soil.
One crew member, a gunner, Wayne Allen, identified and buried in March 1991, was the first to return home. Sadly, no one, not even family of the crew, nor comrades were notified about his return. Our father died May 1991…would have been some glimmer of hope for my father had he known of Wayne’s status then. It wasn’t until many years later that anyone other than his family knew.
Then, in 2006, Herby (pilot of the gunship crew) and Francis Graziosi, were identified. It was Francis’s 19th birthday that January 10, 1970. His remains are buried in his hometown.
Herby’s remains, at the time of identification in 2006, was one tooth, and the actual dog tag he wore that tragic day. I wear his dog tag to every military event, and today…he goes with me. Then, in 2011, five more teeth and two bone shards were identified. His remains are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Also in 2011, the remains of his co-pilot, Andy Howes, were identified, and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in August that year.
The crew is home…sadly, not the way we wanted, but they are home. We, their families, are blessed, as we are one of the lucky families…we got remains returned to us.
I can’t begin to write here of all the wonderful people, comrades, events, happenings, those divine appointments that have come about since Herby’s return. It’s amazing how much my life changed not only in 1970, when the terribly news arrived that he was Missing In Action, to when his remains were buried in 2007.
There are several stories in this website that give a glimpse of him, and of our family.
Today I remember my dear brother, my hero as a child (and still), and all the crew of Firebird Nine One.
Miss you Herby, but I thank you for the grand gifts you left me…your comrades, and all the connections across the world that you made. You’ve changed my life so much for the better…but I’d rather it been you came home alive.
Never give up hope and never forget our fallen warriors who are still Missing in Action. My prayers to my friends who are waiting word of their loved ones. May God Bless them all.