(WASHINGTON) -- Six Air Force airmen killed in a 1965 plane crash in Laos during the Vietnam War were laid to rest on Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, the culmination of a decades-long effort to find their remains, which were all interred in one casket.
The airmen were killed when their AC-47D “Spooky” gunship crashed on Christmas Eve, 1965, while on a combat mission over southern Laos. A “mayday” signal was sent, but all contact was lost with the crew. Two days of search efforts for the plane and its crew proved unsuccessful.
Killed in the crash were Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y.; Col. Derrell B. Jeffords of Florence, S.C.; Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chief Master Sgt. William K. Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y.; Chief Master Sgt. Arden K. Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore.; and Chief Master Sgt. Larry C. Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Their remains would not be found for the next 45 years. On Monday, they were interred with full military honors at Arlington National Ceremony before family members who finally got closure for their missing loved ones.
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