Arlington burial closes chapter on missing soldier

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by syscom3, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Arlington burial closes chapter on missing soldier | orr, plane, last, crash, vietnam - News - OCRegister.com

    A Santa Ana father sees his son laid to rest at the national cemetery, forty years after he died in a plane crash in South Vietnam.
    By DOUG IRVING
    The Orange County Register
    Comments 7| Recommend 3

    SANTA ANA – Warren Orr Sr. saw his son buried with the solemn dignity of a military funeral this morning after 40 years of uncertainty that began with a plane crash in South Vietnam.

    The elder Orr had never really doubted that his son, a young Army officer named Warren Jr., had died on that plane. But it wasn't until a team of investigators found old watches, dog tags and pieces of bone at the crash site that he knew for sure.

    The Pentagon announced last year that it had identified the remains of Warren Jr. and other U.S. servicemen who had been listed as missing in action since the Vietnam War. They were buried this morning at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

    "I get to lay him to rest in his own country now," Orr Sr., now 87 years old and living in Santa Ana, told NBC News. "I'm very proud of him. He was quite a man."

    Capt. Warren Orr Jr. was a career soldier who had volunteered to go to Vietnam and had just turned 25 there. He wrote home in May 1968 that he was on his way to a small base in South Vietnam, to help evacuate the families of South Vietnamese fighters.

    It was the last letter his father received from him.

    On May 12, 1968, a military transport plane loaded with evacuees thundered down a remote airstrip near Da Nang. It came under heavy fire, exploded, and then crashed into a hillside.

    Witnesses had seen Capt. Orr loading people onto the plane just before it left, but no Americans had actually seen him get on. An investigation in 1969 determined that he "could have sought cover from the mortar fire and become separated or he could have boarded the aircraft."

    It concluded: "Fate unknown."

    "I knew he was on that plane," his father told the Orange County Register in an interview last year. "In my heart, I was positive he was on that plane."

    An officer with the Army's Past Conflict Repatriations Branch visited the elder Orr last September. The officer delivered a spiral-bound notebook that laid out the evidence to prove, finally, that Orr Jr. had died in that plane crash.

    Two pieces of leg bone found at the crash site had yielded enough DNA to make a positive identification.

    Orr Sr. kept his son's Army portrait hanging in the living room, above a small table with a case full of medals. He slipped his son's recovered dog tag into the corner of the portrait frame.

    "There's always been that faint hope flickering," Orr Sr. said last year. "Now that they're going to have a funeral, why, I can have closure, and know that he's in peace."

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Contact the writer: 714-704-3777 or [email protected]
     

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