Deborah Crosby waited more than 50 years to hear the good news that her late father, Vietnam War veteran Lt. Commander Frederick P. Crosby, would receive a proper burial.
Frederick Crosby died in 1965, at age 31, when his plane was gunned down during a bomb damage assessment mission in North Vietnam, the Associated Press reported. He was armed with only cameras, Deborah Crosby told the AP.
Deborah, now 58, was in first grade when her family received the devastating news of Frederick’s death. Beyond the pain of losing her father, Crosby had to live with the anguish of not being able to give him the sendoff he deserved.
Though presumed dead, Frederick’s body was not discovered until recently. Last year, after more than half a century of searching, military investigators contacted Crosby to tell her that they’d found her father’s remains.
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) May 26, 2017
On their third visit to the crash site where Frederick Crosby was presumed to have died, investigators met 89-year-old Pham Van Truong, a lifelong resident of Nam Ngan ward in Thanh Hoa City. In 1965, Van Truong heard gunfire near his property and witnessed a plane crash in the fish pond in front of his house. He even kept a piece of the aircraft to make a cooking utensil.
In a 50-page report provided to Deborah Crosby, investigators said that Van Troung’s testimony prompted them to comb the bottom of the pond. There, they discovered bones, scraps of fabric from Lt. Commander Crosby’s uniform, his chrome lighter, and his wedding band.
“It just changed my life in so many ways,” Deborah Crosby, who lives in New York, told the AP. “It relieved a lot of sadness that I’ve been carrying around in my heart very quietly.”
When she was young, Crosby and her grandmother vowed to search for Frederick’s remains in the hope of one day burying him in his hometown of San Diego. This weekend, Crosby will fulfill that promise.
Though her mother and grandmother passed away before the investigation came to a close, Crosby is thankful that the decades of phone calls, meetings with military leaders, and personal research have finally paid off.
On Friday, Crosby will receive her father’s casket at the airport in San Diego. And this Sunday, Lt. Commander Frederick P. Crosby will receive a Memorial Day Weekend burial in his hometown.
“I think my mom would be very happy that my dad is getting the military honors and the recognition of the hero that he was,” she said. “There is so much relief in my heart. I’m so overjoyed that my grandmother’s wishes came true and dad is coming home.”
(H/T: Associated Press)
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