WALLA WALLA, Wash. - It was a bittersweet homecoming for Major Larry J. Hanley as family and friends bid farewell to the veteran who had been missing for more than 40 years.
The air force declared Hanley was killed in action after his plane was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. He was finally buried Saturday morning, with full military honors, at the Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla.
"We didn't like to hear that he was killed but we're happy that we have his remains and he's back home again," said JoAnn Aliverti, Hanley's sister.
The ceremony included a gun salute, a playing of "Taps" and scripture readings. Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects including a Vietnam veteran all the way from Texas, who shares a special connection with Hanley.
"My wife bought a POW bracelet for my grandmother in 1970 while I was in Vietnam...through the years it got passed down to me," said Bill Reesman with VFW Post 3377 in Texas.
Carved in the bracelet is Major Hanley's name. Reesman's worn it for years and while he didn't know Hanley personally, he says the bracelet is a reminder to never forget the men and women who pay the ultimate sacrifice.
"I don't want to see any of our POW/MIA's forgotten and left behind and never returned and I made an attempt to carry the banner so to speak," said Reesman.