Veterans

May 9, 2014

Tacoma Airmen killed in Laos 44 years ago finally home

Members of the McChord Field Honor Guard transfer the remains of Capt. Douglas D. Ferguson to an awaiting hearse May 1, 2014, at Seattle-Tacoma Airport in SeaTac, Wash. Ferguson, a native of Tacoma, Wash., had been missing since his aircraft was shot down over Laos Dec. 30, 1969.

Missing for more than 44 years, the remains of Capt. Douglas D. Ferguson, who was killed when his F-4D Phantom aircraft was shot down over Laos in 1969, returned home May 1 to Lakewood, Wash.

Last year, members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command excavated the Dec. 30, 1969, crash site in Laos and found remains and artifacts they believed were those of Ferguson.

Through DNA testing and a dental records match, JPAC officials were able to positively identify the remains as being Ferguson’s, said the captain’s sister, Sue Scott, who was notified of the DNA match in January.

“When I received word of the positive identification, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops,” Scott said. “We’ve been working on this for more than 40 years.”

Ferguson’s remains arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash., May 1. McChord Field Honor Guard members met the casket at the airplane and ceremoniously transferred it to the awaiting hearse.

A procession of vehicles, including Ferguson’s hearse, police vehicles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as state and local agencies, family members, and Patriot Guard Riders, left the SeaTac airport bound for the funeral home.

From a freeway overpass along the route, firefighters from JBLM and Central Pierce County, shadowed by a large U.S. flag draping down from the extended ladders of their fire engines, saluted the procession as it passed below them.

“That’s what makes me teary is that I feel like we are embraced by love,” Scott later said, referring to the firefighters on the procession route.

Central Pierce and Joint Base Lewis-McChord firefighters salute the procession of Capt. Douglas D. Ferguson’s remains May 1, 2014, on an overpass in Tacoma, Wash. Ferguson, a Tacoma native, was killed while on a reconnaissance mission over Laos when his aircraft was shot down Dec. 30, 1969.

The following day, 627th Air Base Group Chaplain (Maj.) John Shipman held a funeral service for Ferguson at the McChord Theater. Hundreds of family members, former classmates of Ferguson, and members of JBLM attended the service. Col. Anthony Davit, the 627th ABG commander, provided opening remarks.

“While I know that Captain Ferguson’s family has been waiting for his return for more than 44 years, I have been waiting for nearly 28,” Davit told those in attendance, referring to his time as a cadet in college where he always wore a POW/MIA patch on his flight suit. “I would often think about all the sacrifices those that came before me had made, and in many cases, may still be making. These thoughts guided my growing desire to serve and uphold the legacy of the great men and women that came before me.”

Scott reflected on all the people over the decades who have helped her brother return home, and those who came to show their support once he finally did come home.

“I am so grateful,” Scott said. “This is the best of who we are as Americans.”

Ferguson was buried with full military honors later that day at the funeral home, in a plot just a few feet from where his parents are buried.

“There have been ups and downs over the years for sure,” Scott said. “But the process has allowed me to meet the people who honor our country, not just with their service, but those who continue to give and give. That’s what blows me away.”

Col. Anthony Davit salutes as he presents an encased flag to Sue Scott, the sister of Capt. Douglas D. Ferguson, May 2, 2014, in Lakewood, Wash. Ferguson’s F-4D aircraft was shot down over Laos in 1969, and his remains were returned home after being missing for more than 44 years. Davit is the 627th Air Base Group commander.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham

World War II pilot reunited with P-47

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 2...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

Vietnam War veterans honored during ceremony at AF Memorial

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III delivers his remarks during a wreath laying ceremony March 2, 2015, honoring Air Force Vietnam prisoners of war and missing in action at the A...
 
 
Air Force photograph

AF holds 50th anniversary Vietnam War commemoration ceremony

Air Force photograph F-105 crews played a key role in Operation Rolling Thunder. During this three-year Vietnam War campaign, Air Force, Marine and Navy aircraft bombed targets throughout North Vietnam. U.S. and Australian wars...
 

 

Airmen missing from WWII accounted for

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Feb. 23, that the remains of U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Mont.; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake...
 
 

President signs Clay Hunt Act, says ‘Stigma has to end’

President Barack Obama Feb. 12 signed into law the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, or SAV Act. The act is aimed at reducing military and veteran suicides and improving their access to quality mental health care. Hunt was a decorated Marine veteran who struggled with post-traumatic stress. He deployed to Iraq and...
 
 

Survivor of USS Arizona from Pearl Harbor attack dies at 100

YUBA CITY, Calif. – The oldest living crew member of the battleship USS Arizona to have survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has died in Northern California at the age of 100. Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Langdell died Feb. 4 at a nursing home in Yuba City, according to his son, Ted Langdell....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>