Eight U.S. airmen who had been listed as missing in action since they were shot down during the Vietnam War 26 years ago were buried Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery.
An AC-130 gunship carrying the eight airmen was hit by antiaircraft fire and exploded in a forested, mountainous region of Laos on Nov. 24, 1969. Two pilots located the wreckage the next day but detected no signs of life, no parachutes and no emergency signals.
An armed forces review board a month ago identified the crew's remains, which had been recovered in Laos in 1993.
Just before the burial, Myrtle Brown Waters, whose brother, Capt. Earl Brown, was among the eight, said she thought the service would help family members cope after all these years.
"It was something that I thought I had reckoned with," said Waters, of Lynwood, Calif. "And I suppose I look at it as bringing a closure to some very painful years that the family has gone through."
Florence DeWispelaere, mother of another of the airmen, Rexford DeWispelaere, said: "It'll be sad, of course, but it'll be a relief too. I never have cried, but this will be very emotional, I'm afraid so."
She said she had believed that someday, somehow, her son would come out alive. She had even traveled to Southeast Asia in 1971, hoping to find him.