Nearly 60 years after a military mission plane went missing over the Pacific Ocean, relatives of the soldiers and crew members on board met for the first time to unveil a monument in their honor.
Little is known about what happened to Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 after it took off from Guam on March 16, 1962, en route to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Both were scheduled refueling stops on the journey from California to the plane's final destination in Saigon, South Vietnam.
107 souls were on board, including 93 U.S. Army Rangers and their flight crew, including Louisiana native SP5 Douglas Patrick Dickey of Alexandria.
According to CNN, an explosion was reported near where Flight 739 would have been at the time, but no debris was ever found, even after a vast 8-day search in the Pacific.
Family members were told their soldiers were presumed dead, missing in action, perished without a trace. They say their questions about the mission aren't answered by the federal government. Families are still working to get the named of their loved ones on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, but say they're told the names cannot be added because the soldiers "weren't in combat operations or a combat zone."
In recognition of the soldiers on Flight 739, Wreaths Across America unveiled a monument Saturday, Armed Forces Day, in Columbia Falls, Maine, in an area where brush is gathered to create wreaths that will be placed on the headstones of fallen heroes.
As loved ones, some born generations after the soldiers went missing, looked on, the monument bearing each person's name was unveiled and each name was read out loud.
"We have a saying at Wreaths Across America that a person dies twice," Executive Director Karen Worcester told CNN. "The first is when 'life leaves their body, but the final time is when their name is spoken for the very last time.'"
Jennifer Kirk, whose uncle Spc. Donald Sargent was on the flight, said of the monument, "It's a blessing. They are finally going to be recognized. They are finally going to be remembered."
The ceremony can be viewed in full below:
Read more about Flying Tiger Line Flight 739:
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