The U.S. Navy honored four sailors from a Vietnam-era helicopter crew during an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery May 2.
Lt. Dennis W. Peterson of Huntington Park, Calif., was the pilot of an SH-3A helicopter that crashed in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam.
Peterson was accounted for on March 30, 2012. Also aboard the aircraft were Ensign Donald P. Frye of Los Angeles, Calif.; Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson of Stockdale, Texas; and Donald P. McGrane of Waverly, Iowa.
The crew was interred in its final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery.
“Taking care of our sailors and taking care of our family members is important today, just as it was back in 1967,” said Cmdr. Anthony Roach, former Commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12, which was HS-2 during the Vietnam War. “We could not do what we do without the legacy that they have built for us and we just wanted to show them how important it is to us that they are not forgotten in any way, shape or fashion.”
The crew was lost July 19, 1967 when their SH-3A Sea King helicopter was shot down in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam during an attempted rescue of a fellow downed aviator.
For their actions the crew was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. Peterson was awarded the Silver Star.
“He deserved it. I don’t know how else to say it,” said Kirsten Peterson, daughter of Lt. Dennis Peterson. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice. We sacrificed. His grandkids sacrificed, so it was overdue. Full honors means a lot.”
The interment at Arlington National Cemetery brought closure to the families after more than 45 years.