Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Day Ride – Part 2

PGR Mission – Captain Herbert C. Crosby of Donalsonville, Ga


NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

December 19, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711

Soldiers Missing In Action From Vietnam War are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are Capt. Herbert C. Crosby, of Donalsonville, Ga.; Sgt. 1st Class Wayne C. Allen, of Tewksbury, Mass.; and Sgt. 1st Class Francis G. Graziosi, of Rochester, N.Y.; all U.S. Army. Burial dates and locations are being set by their families.

Representatives from the Army met with the next-of-kin of these men to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

On Jan. 10, 1970, these men were returning to their base at Chu Lai, South Vietnam aboard a UH-1C Huey helicopter. Due to bad weather, their helicopter went down over Quang Nam Province. A search was initiated for the crew, but no sign of the helicopter or crew was spotted.

In 1989, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) gave to U.S. specialists 25 boxes containing the remains of the U.S. servicemen related to this incident. Later that year, additional remains and Crosby's identification tag were obtained from a Vietnamese refugee.

Between 1993 and 1999, joint U.S./S.R.V. teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted three investigations in Ho Chi Minh City and two investigations in Quang Nam-Da Nang Province (formerly Quang Nam Province).A Vietnamese informant in Ho Chi Minh City told the team he knew where the remains of as many as nine American servicemen were buried.He agreed to lead the team to the burial site.In 1994, the team excavated the site and recovered a metal box and several bags containing human remains, including those of these three soldiers.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at or call
(703) 699-1169.

A Patriot Guard Mission.

This mission was an opportunity for me to meet a fellow blogger and PGR member from Georgia, Mama Kat. Once we got to DC, I was going on this mission no matter what. We had just arrived in the DC area and it being nearly 2200 hours, I really didn’t expect the other Indiana folks to attend. A quick call to the RC (Ride Captain) and I knew the Georgia PGR were meeting at the Iwo Jima Memorial at 0630. KSU (kick stands up) at 0700.

Our hotel to the memorial was about 50 miles. Having no idea how or where to go and allowing for DC traffic, I elected to leave the hotel at 0500. I informed the Indiana crew of my intentions and with unanimous enthusiasm they all agreed that they were going too, ‘it was the least they could do for this hero, for Captain Crosby’.

DC traffic and signs, what signs?

I had asked several people at a restaurant earlier and spoke with John (a local who was hosting us for a BBQ dinner Saturday night) about directions to the memorial. Basically, everyone said I-66 east into the city and ‘follow the signs.’ Riiight!!
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Traffic was a breeze at 0500, nothing more that I-465 around Indy during race week. We passed the beltway exits and were headed for downtown, it was about 0550. As we rounded a bend at 60+ MPH we passed (yes, PASSED) the Iwo Jima Memorial. Great!! I missed the exit and there sure as hell weren’t any signs. Off at the next exit and… there is no on ramp west bound. Lovely, just lovely. BTW, did I mention that I am leading 4 other bikes? So, I fiddle with my GPS for a second trying to get the right scale and off we go, turn here, down through some neighborhood, left up a steep hill, a couple twists and turns and we came to a stop sign…the memorial was about 200 yards forward and to the right. Still no signs. Right looks like it goes off into the neighborhood again and straight looks like a drive way into a park, straight it is.


Straight was an on ramp back onto I-66!! We get off at the next exit head back east, get off at the correct exit this time and go off into the neighborhood a little and there in the back is the entrance to the Iwo Jima Memorial. Cool!! And it’s only 0615.

We parked and began introductions to some of the other riders that were there, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, New York and Ohio. We wondered around taking pictures and marveling at the memorial. Having seen “Flag of Our Fathers” a few months ago gave this visit a rather special meaning to me. BTW – did you know the Iwo Jima Memorial is about 4 times human scale? It’s HUGE!!!

The Georgia riders arrived and more intros. Kat, her husband Bear, the RC and their State Captain. Many others were introduced, but I am so terrible with names, I won’t even try listing them all.

Georgia Congressman Phil Gingry was there and presented their State Captain with a flag that had flown over the Capital building and certificate of authenticity. A second flag and certificate was presented to ‘supply sergeant’ Parker Thompson. (someone’s 10-12 year old son). It was a flood of emotions for everyone.

The Congressman rode over to and through ANC (Arlington National Cemetery) with us. The guards let us in a little before the official opening, so it was just us 50-60 bikes wondering through the hallowed grounds of ANC. With 10-15 full size American flags flying, I'm suer we were a sight to see. We made our way over to the Chapel and stood our flag line. I heard a Georgia Senator was there and a few other names were whispered in the line, quite the impressive who’s who list of politicians.

The Honor Guard, Caisson and 20+ piece band were the definition of ‘squared away’, ‘spit shined’ and ‘polished’. Everything they did was in unison and perfectly timed. When we left the Chapel we rode at a walking pace behind the Honor Guard and family to the burial site. There Captain Crosby received a 21 gun salute. A woman I believe to be his mother and other family members places roses on his casket. Many other Vietnam Vets that had ridden in also placed honor mementos and pins on his casket.

Twice, once at the Chapel and once at the grave site 3 large choppers (not Huey’s) flew over.

Take a look at this slide show, pictures are worth a thousand words. These pictures speak volumes.

Next – ANC and Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital

Edit - 06/04/07 - Added a link.


Nancy said...

National Geographic has a great article on Arlington and the ceremonies they have there every day.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Glad those men finally made it home.

B. Miller said...

Great posts... keep up the series! What happens next?!

steph said...

I love the photos...