Two Air Force pilots who were shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War finally got a burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Monday with a traditional flyover honor, despite the military declining a flyover due to sequestration cuts. News4's Mark Segraves reports on the friends and family members who helped make the flyover happen.
The sound of "Taps" filled the air at Arlington National Cemetery Monday as the families of two missing Air Force pilots who died together during the Vietnam War finally laid their loved ones to rest.
James Sizemore and Howard Andre were friends at Georgia Tech University and later reunited as the crew of a Douglas A-26 invader. The two died in July 1969 when their bomber crashed over Laos.
Their caskets were interred as they stood during the war - side by side.
"It's very meaningful. They flew together, they died together and they ought to be buried together," James Sizemore's brother Gene Sizemore said.
Seizemore was the pilot and Andre, the navigator during that fateful nighttime flight over the Plain of Jars region of Xiangkhouang Province, according to pownetwork.org. The A26 invaders were deployed to perform "hunter-killer missions against truck convoys" in Laos.
Their plane was shot down by hostile fire, and military officials were told they couldn't have survived the crash. The two were classified as "Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered."
Three years ago, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic team recovered human remains, personal effects and military equipment at the site of crash; and in April, scientists with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command task force identified the remains as those of Sizemore and Andre.
"I think we'll finally get some closure -- at least I'm hoping," Sizemore's nephew Bill Sizemore said.
Sequestration forced the men's families to pay for the traditional flyover -- a final tribune to the fallen airmen. The families utilized the help of Warrier Aviation to help the flyover become a reality.
Both men were buried with full military honors.