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BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (CBS) — A soldier from Blue Island who was 17 when he died in Vietnam will be buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery this week.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, Army Pfc. Wayne Bibbs died in 1972 while serving as a door gunner on a helicopter that crashed. But the casket was empty at his first funeral, because his remains and those of two others were not found until decades later.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday that Bibbs will be buried as a group in a single casket with Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr. of Waterford, Conn., and Spc. Robin R. Yeakley of South Bend, Ind.
Holm was the pilot of the OH-6A Cayuse helicopter that went down, and Yeakley was the observer. The three men were flying a reconnaissance mission on Thua Thien-Hue Province, South Vietnam, on June 11, 1972, when the aircraft made a second pass over a ridge, exploded, and crashed for a second esplosion.
Between 1993 and 2008, teams of investigators from both the U.S. and Vietnam talked to witnesses and dug up several crash sites before finding the human remains, the helicopter records, and equipment from the crew.
The U.S. works closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to find the bodies of all Americans lost in the Vietnam War.