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After 35 Years, War Widow Gets Her Closure

The uncertainty ended when remains of the Huntington Beach Navy man were identified.

May 29, 2003|From Associated Press

The widow of a Navy petty officer who vanished during the Vietnam War says that after 35 years of uncertainty, she is looking forward to his funeral.

"This is finally a closure for us," Rebecca J. Siow said Wednesday. Now, she said, "we can welcome him and the crew back from oblivion."

A surveillance plane carrying Petty Officer 3rd Class Gale R. Siow of Huntington Beach and eight others vanished Jan. 11, 1968. It was on a mission to drop sensors in Laos to detect enemy movements.

The Pentagon said Tuesday the remains had been identified. They will be buried June 18 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Rebecca Siow, 60, and her two surviving children will be there.

Siow, who now lives in San Jose, said she learned from officials about a year ago that her husband was dead. For decades, she said, she never accepted it.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday May 31, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Missing serviceman -- An Associated Press article that ran in some editions of Thursday's California section incorrectly reported the hometown of a Navy petty officer whose body was found in Laos more than 30 years after he was lost. Gale R. Siow was from Huntington Park, not Huntington Beach.

"Everything was in suspension for me. I kind of functioned day by day," she said. "I figured he was missing in action or maybe a prisoner.... I didn't believe that they were dead."

Gale Siow was born in Albuquerque. He grew up in Arizona and eventually moved to Huntington Beach. He and Rebecca met at a YMCA dance and married in September 1962.

According to the Pentagon, the plane carrying Siow left a Thailand base. In its last transmission the crew reported descending through dense clouds in Laos. Two weeks after the plane went down, an Air Force crew photographed what was believed to have been the crash site, but enemy activity in the area prevented a recovery operation, a Pentagon statement said.

The years were hard for her, Rebecca Siow said. "So many lost years there. We just functioned, barely."

She never remarried and now lives with her son Sean, 37, in San Jose. Another son, Robert, 40, is in nearby Sunnyvale. Her daughter, Elizabeth, died of liver and kidney failure in February. She was 38.

"I think once it is behind us I'll be able to function," Siow said. "I always wanted the case to close. I just knew that Gale had to come home."

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