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Deborah Crosby touched her father's flag-draped casket as her three brothers hugged her in a tearful embrace on the tarmac at the San Diego airport Friday - ending a more than half century search to find and bring home the remains of Lt Cmdr Frederick P Crosby, shot down as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War.
Deborah Crosby, now 58, was only six when she was sent home from the first grade to learn her father was presumed dead, though his body had not been found during Operation Rolling Thunder.
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Lt Cmdr Frederick P Crosby had been deployed on the Bon Homme Richard, an Essex-class aircraft carrier stationed off the Vietnam coast.
Crosby was one of 14 planes that were shot during the ship's 1965 to 1966 cruise with nine of the pilots for those flights being killed and two being Prisoners of War.
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Deborah's mother could never talk about that day, but she gave Crosby and her brothers a binder with articles about her father's plane zooming low through the clouds on a bomb damage assessment mission before it was gunned down by North Vietnamese ground forces in 1965. The 31-year-old pilot was armed only with cameras, his daughter said.
'They were coming in low and fast on an enemy who is already spun up because he's already been attacked,' said Karl Zingheim, historian at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.
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'They were bearing the full brunt of the attack so they could bring the intelligence to bring back to the (aircraft) carrier.'
Crosby and her grandmother made a pact to someday bring home her father's remains and bury him in his hometown of San Diego.
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A year ago, military investigators found his remains in a fish pond in north Vietnam. On Friday, Deborah Crosby fulfilled her promise to her late...
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