Lt. Richard “Tito” Lannom was 27 when he was declared MIA on March 1, 1968 after his plane disappeared on a bombing mission over North Vietnam. His remains were found in 2017 and identified in September.
The funeral took place Saturday at the Discovery Park of America museum in Union City, Tenn., Lannom's hometown. The day prior was the 51st anniversary of the day he was listed as missing.
At the funeral, his widow, Charlotte Shaw, told mourners that her husband was willing to step up when others weren’t as inclined.
“He looked fear and death in the face and honor won out,” she said, according to WSMV-TV.
Shaw, who was 23 when she married Lannom, also urged attendees not to forget those who are still listed as MIA in Vietnam, the station reported.
“Today is bigger than one hero’s homecoming, we are also here to remember those whose remains have not yet been found,” she said.
It is believed that Lannom’s Grumman A6 Intruder was shot down before reaching the bombing target, according to Pownetwork.org. The plane took off from the deck of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin.
An excavation team found Lannom's remains at a crash site on a remote North Vietnam island with steep limestone cliffs.
Lannom was the bombardier and navigator on the doomed mission, according to the Pentagon POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which reported that a search and rescue effort was mounted after the aircraft failed to rendezvous with the carrier. No evidence of the plane could be found.
The pilot Lt. Cdr. Thomas Scheurich remains MIA.