Coming Home: A Northern Michigan soldier laid to rest 43 years after dying
Thu, 04 Jul 2013 19:39:47 GMT —
William Burgess has been a patient man, as he puts it, "We have been looking for this day for 43 years. We have been waiting to get closure for John."
His brother John Burgess was listed as missing in action since 1970 when his helicopter crashed near the Cambodian border. John was born in Leelanau County and graduated from Kingsley High School before being drafted to serve in Vietnam.
Since 1970, William Burgess was left with more questions than answers. But this week, at Arlington National Cemetery, William finally found some closure.
A recent discovery of new artifacts allowed the Department of Defense to bring John's remains home for a burial at Arlington with full military honors.
While William was able to get closure for a brother he knew so well, a son also was able to find the same for a man he hardly knew. Rick VanWeezel is the son of John Burgess. His father died when Rick was only two years old. He says he never really knew him, but that coming to Arlington and finally being able to see his father rest in peace has put his mind at ease.
Only one soldier, John Goosman, survived the helicopter crash that claimed John Burgess' life. He knew the moment he heard his fellow brother in arms was coming home, that he would be here to witness the ceremony.
Goosman felt it was his obligation to reach out to the families who lost so much in Vietnam, to share stories, and the truth of what happened that day. He says finally having John back home will bring relief.
"My tears for 43 years were of sadness," Goosman said. "My tears now will be tears of joy because my brothers are here, they are here."