An Air Force captain whose plane went down in North Vietnam more than 30 years ago will be buried in Woodward, his mother said Monday.
A plane flown by pilot Thomas Ray Allen of Woodward and Captain Ronald Packard of Canon City, Colorado, was reported lost on July 31, 1967.
Allen's mother, Louise Allen of Woodward, said remains of her son and Packard were among those taken from Vietnam to Hawaii in 1992 and identified through DNA testing.
Allen said she was not told why four years passed before funeral arrangements were made.
Family members were notified of Allen's identification last June, she said.
Allen's remains were found after his sons pushed for the crash site to be re-excavated, she said.
Louise Allen and her husband, Ray, will join their son's wife, children and grandchildren for funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 20.
Allen's remains will be brought to Woodward for a memorial service at First United Methodist Church and burial in Elmwood Cemetery on Nov. 29.
Packard will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Thomas Allen had requested he be buried in Woodward, his mother said.
”Tommy was such a home person, we want to bring him home,” she said. ”He always wanted to come home.”
Next week's burial comes after 30 years of uncertainty for the Allen family. There also have been times of frustration, Louise Allen said.
”When you call (Air Force officials), the people you're talking to won't really understand,” she said. ”This happened before they were born.”
Thomas Allen was 26 when his F-4C armed reconnaissance plane crashed less than a year after he was sent to Vietnam. He was to have come home two months later.
Allen's wife and three children, ages 6, 4, and 2 when their father left, later moved from Woodward to Florida.
”I want closure for my family,” Louise Allen said Monday. ”His children need to let it go.”
After three decades, reopening the wounds of a mother's loss has been rough, Louise Allen said. But so have the last 30 years.
A mother doesn't give up, she said.
”It's there all the time,” she said. ”I think most mothers feel a little bit differently than other people do.”
National Alliance of Families
Bits n Pieces
Remains Identified — The following Air Force personnel were declared identified. They are Major Thomas R. Allen of Woodward, Ok.; Captain Ronald L. Packard of Canon City, Colorado; Major John C. Clark of Brownfield, Texas.; and Major Bobby G. Huggins of Montgomery, Alabama.
According to records, Major Allen and Captain Packard were lost over North Vietnam on July 31, 1967. Major John Clark was lost over Laos on Dec. 5, 1969. His crewmate Patrick Harrold was accounted for and announced in the
last Bits ‘N' Pieces. At that time we asked what about John Clark. Now we know.
Major Bobby Huggins and his crew member were lost over Vietnam on June 4, 1970. No mention was made of the crew member. All remains were accounted for based on mt-DNA testing.
To these families, we hold you in our hearts and offer our prayers during this difficult time. We hope you have the answers, you have waited so long for.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard