Last week’s column mentioned the return of the remains of two airmen who were lost in Vietnam 46 years ago when their fighter jet crashed.
Their remains were positively identified after an extensive effort that included three excavations of the crash site and DNA testing.
That prompted an interesting e-mail from Stone Workman, who is 8th District Rep. Austin Scott’s district director in Warner Robins.
Workman happened to be on the Delta flight from Atlanta to Washington that carried the remains of one of those airmen, Lt. Col. Charles Walling, for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
“After takeoff,” Workman wrote in the e-mail, “the captain came on board and explained that we had the Lt. Colonel’s remains on board and gave a brief history of the finding of his final mission and the recovery of the remains. The captain also requested all passengers to remain seated after landing in DCA (Reagan National Airport) to allow the honor guard to deplane first.
“When we got to the gate in DCA, not one passenger got out of their seat until the honor guard was off the plane. Looking out the window, we could see the Marine honor guard retrieve the coffin from the aircraft, and every Delta employee working the ramp was standing at attention while this was being done. It took 46 years to bring him home, but it was finally done with dignity and high honor.”
Also, on Tuesday the Department of Defense announced the positive identification of the remains of another Air Force pilot missing in action in Vietnam. The remains of Capt. Clyde Campbell of Longview, Texas, have been returned to his family. He was buried at Arlington on Thursday.
Pentagon survivor tells story
At every Houston County Board of Commissioners meeting, a veteran or active-duty member is invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward, they spend a few minutes talking about their military experience.
At Tuesday’s meeting, a Robins Air Force Base active-duty member who led the pledge told an especially compelling story. It’s one he said he doesn’t tell often because he gets emotional talking about.
Chief Master Sgt. Dexter Sandiford began by giving a rundown of his military career, which has included stations around the world. He was working at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. His wife, who also serves in the military, was there as well.
“We spent a total of about seven hours looking for each other that day,” he said. “As we walked up and down the streets, I’m listening to husbands and wives calling out their husband’s name or the wife’s name or their daughter’s name. You see people that’s bloody walking up and down the street. The only thing we could actually do that day was pray.
“It’s almost as if my wife and I had the same thought pattern that day. We had a child in day care, and we just got on a train, and as the doors opened, we both stepped out of the train at the same time. It was almost as though we fell in love all over again that day.
“When we captured and killed bin Laden, that was one of the best days I’ve had. It was like a burden was lifted off of me.”
New uniforms available
In another follow-up to last week’s column, a local business owner called to say she has the new Air Force battle dress uniforms in stock.
The Air Force Times story mentioned last week said that due to limited supply from manufacturers, the uniforms would be available at only 16 bases initially, and Robins wasn’t one of them.
However, airmen who don’t want to wait can get the lighter weight uniforms at Artistic Monograms & More at 140 Partridge Trail in Warner Robins. Owner Sherry McReynolds said she got them by ordering them directly from the manufacturer. However, airmen will have to pay more. She is charging $110 where the uniforms in base stores will cost about $80.
The uniforms are made with lighter weight material and are supposed to be better in hot climates, such as Afghanistan, or Warner Robins in July.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.