Arrival Ceremony Welcomes Fallen U.S. Military Home
(June 25, 2011)
|JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS - 6/22/2011) --
Three unidentified American heroes returned from war June
17. They were greeted here by friends and fellow service
members, with full military honors. Although their return
was sad because they were ones who had paid the ultimate
sacrifice, their return also was joyful because they are
fallen heroes from Vietnam and World War II, finally brought
home to be identified and laid to rest.
Military members transfer the remains of a U.S. service member June 17, 2011, during an arrival ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The unidentified remains were recovered by members of the Joint Pacific Accounting Command. Following the ceremony, with full military honors, the remains were sent to JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory where forensic identification analysis will be conducted so they may be identified and returned to member's family. U.S. Air Force photo
by Senior Airman Lauren Main
The arrival ceremony, hosted by U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command officials , represents the success of JPAC's mission: to
achieve the fullest possible accounting of Americans lost during the
nation's past conflicts.
One woman in attendance came to
honor those three heroes -- recovered from the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Independent
State of Papua, New Guinea -- because she herself has experienced
the devastation of losing a husband and waiting decades to finally
get closure on his death.
"My first husband, Steve Hanson,
was a Marine Corps aviator, and he was shot down June 3, 1967," said
Carole Hickerson. "His remains came (home) through JPAC in 2000, and
he is now
buried at Arlington. All that time passed before we had any definite
clarification as to what had happened."
They were married for just a year before Steve joined the
military to do his part in the Vietnam War. Steve missed the
birth of their son, who was born two weeks after his
departure for Vietnam. When he was lost in Laos, there was
no information on his status for years. Finally, one of his
crew members came back, and Mrs. Hickerson felt she had
every reason to be hopeful; but eventually it became clear
that Capt. Steve Hanson wasn't coming back.
the prisoners of war eventually came back, Mrs. Hickerson
went out to greet them. There she met Jim, a man who had
been a POW for five years, and they eventually married. Now,
Mrs. Hickerson attends every ceremony she can, to honor
those who are POWs and missing in action.
me very proud that our country does such a thing," she said.
"It makes me cry. But it's great to see that our country and
our military still care enough, no matter how many years go
by. It doesn't matter if it's someone lost in Afghanistan,
Vietnam, Korea or World War II, it's still the same honor
that's given to them. I'm very thankful, and I hope that our
country and all the people in the United States appreciate
what the military is doing."
After the ceremony, the
transfer cases were brought to the JPAC Central
Identification Laboratory for forensic identification,
according to a JPAC press release. If and when
identifications are established, the names will be announced
following notification of next of kin.
The CIL is the
largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world and
identifies, on average, about 74 POW/MIAs per year. More
than 83,000 individuals are missing, dating back to World
War II, according to JPAC.
USAF Sgt. Carolyn Herrick
JB Pearl Harbor-HIckam
Provided by Air Force News Service
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