San Diego

‘He's Home At Last': Navy Pilot Buried at Fort Rosecrans 51 Years After Death

A fallen Navy pilot shot down in Vietnam 51 years ago was finally laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Sunday.

Lt. Commander Fredrick Crosby was killed in action during a bomb assessment mission, a mission that he volunteered for, in Vietnam in 1965.

His daughter, Deborah, worked for decades to fulfill a promise the family had made to her grandmother. On Sunday, her dream came true.

“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude and with pride and with emotion,” Deborah said. “It was more than I could ever expect. It’s just been a really amazing day.”

Frederick Crosby’s remains were found in a pond in Thanh Hoa province, according to the Associated Press, with the help of a lifelong native who recalled for investigators a day he saw an American plane crash near his home.

Phan Van Truong, the 89-year-old witness, said that a salvage team came to the site and hauled pieces of the plane away. Van Truong even used scraps of the plane to make a cooking utensil and to fix a clock.

With the new information from Van Truong, military investigators searched the pond and in 2015 and found bones, pieces of Crosby’s uniform and his wedding band.

Just days before Memorial Day in 2016, Deborah got a call from the military telling her they had found her father.

“It was really overwhelming,” Deborah said of the phone call. “It brought me back to the day I found out about my dad’s death. It was very emotional. I just burst out into tears. It was very overwhelming.”

Now, Deborah and her family have closure. The thoughts of “What if?” have been erased and their dad, brother and grandfather has come home.

“My dad is home, and here we grew up in Pt. Loma, so my dad being buried here at Fort Rosecrans is truly coming home. He’s home at last,” Deborah said.

Fredrick’s sister Sharon said that her brother loved to fly, loved the Navy and love his country. She was sad that her parents weren’t alive to see this day, but was certainly relieved to see it for herself.

“I don’t think a day in that 52 years I haven’t thought of it.”

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