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Special Veteran Memorial Mass For MIA

1 p.m. - Saturday, May 26 at Saint Patrick’s

Sgt. William Kevin Colwell and five other Vietnam War servicemen have been MIA, but not forgotten since 1965.

This weekend, a special service will celebrate the fact that their remains have recently been discovered all these years later. Finally, the men will receive a military burial at Arlington and their families will have closure.

On Saturday, May 26, at 1 p.m., residents are invited to Saint Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove for a local memorial mass that will precede the Arlington ceremony to be held by the Air Force on July 9.

Sgt. Colwell was a career serviceman. When he was shot down 1965, he was in his 40s, and now, 46 and a half years since the crash, his family is relieved that he will be back on American soil.

Sgt. Colwell and five others were shot down in southern Laos on Dec. 24, 1965. It was the last flight to leave before President Lyndon Johnson declared a truce for the holidays. The flight took off from DaNang Air Force Base on a combat strike mission against enemy targets in southern Laos. The Air Force received a “mayday” from the plane and a search plane was sent out with no luck. The six crewmen were placed in the status of Missing in Action.

The sergeant was survived by his wife (who, in 1968, passed away in a house fire) and a brother and two sisters who have also since passed away. Only his nieces remain.

In 1995, the U.S. and the Lao People’s Democratic team investigated the loss. Through the years things have come up and the Air Force has keep the families informed. This month was quite a moving time when they called to say that remains found at the site were that of the AC - 47D “Spooky” gunship.

Ann Famigliette, one of Sgt. Colwell’s nieces, will give a eulogy for the ceremony.  

In the eulogy, she says, “Through the years we would wonder whether he was a prisoner or if he had died. Then in 1968, another tragedy happened: his wife Ingrid died in a house fire with two of her beloved dogs. Years passed and hope was never lost by the Air Force or our family.”

She told the Record Pilot, “It has been such an unbelievable ordeal over the years. The family is very, very glad that he is back home, on American soil, and we finally know his whereabouts.”