Fallen Air Force Majors honored at Arlington National Cemetery
ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) -- It was early Monday morning when the last planes arrived at Manassas Regional Airport. But these airshow pilots with the Warrior Flight Team didn’t come to entertain – they came to honor two fallen airmen they had never met.
"We're bringing these heroes home, and I get to be a part of that," said retired Lt. Col. Art Nalls.
In the summer of 1969, U.S. Air Force Majors Jim Sizemore and Howard Andre were shot down in their A-26 Invader over Laos. Sizemore’s son James was only nine-and-a-half years old at the time.
The crash site was excavated in 2012, their bodies identified in 2013. On Monday, Majors Sizemore and Andre, missing in action for more than 40 years, were finally buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
The military, citing budget cuts, declined months ago to perform a fly-over. So the Warrior Flight Team secured permission to be in D.C. air space, which allowed eight civilian pilots in vintage planes to roar into action.
"wWe are honored and humbled to be able to do this," said Pat Marsh with the Warrior Flight Team. "This is a big deal."
A B-25 passed over Arlington National, then two P-51 Mustangs flew astride an A-26 Invader – the same kind of plane Sizemore and Andre were flying. And finally, four jets soared by with one peeling off in the missing man formation.
"Finally, I'm able to bury dad at Arlington National Cemetery," said James Sizemore, who thanked the pilots after the service and volunteered to tell the final chapter in his father’s life.
"I feel overwhelmed that this day could happen," he added.
Buried together in wreckage for more than 40 years, Majors Sizemore and Andrew are now once again side by side.