Clinton pledges to 'bring heroes home'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

U.S. President Bill Clinton, pledging that the United States will not rest "until we bring every possible fallen hero home," visited a rice paddy Saturday and watched excavation teams dig through thick mud for the remains of an American fighter pilot downed on a bombing run 33 years ago.

U.S. President Bill Clinton, pledging that the United States will not rest "until we bring every possible fallen hero home," visited a rice paddy Saturday and watched excavation teams dig through thick mud for the remains of an American fighter pilot downed on a bombing run 33 years ago.

Clinton passed farms and water buffaloes to a site where dozens of Vietnamese and a few Americans were straining buckets of mud through a sieve. The site, about 50 minutes' drive from Hanoi, is one of six in Vietnam being excavated for MIA remains.

"Whether we are American or Vietnamese, I think we all want to know where our loved ones are buried," Clinton said, his eyes welling with tears. "I think we all want to be able to honor them and be able to visit their gravesite."

Clinton was accompanied by his wife, Hillary, and their daughter, Chelsea. He also was joined by Dan and David Evert, whose father, Air Force Capt. Lawrence G. Evert, of Cody, Wyoming, was shot down in November 1967 during a bombing raid on a railroad bridge.

"I'm hit hard," Evert said in his last radio transmission. Witnesses said anti-aircraft fire downed the fighter jet. Wreckage is buried deep in thick clay.

As Clinton toured the site, military technician Master Sgt. Gina Noland noted that the wreckage "is a lot older than many of us who are out here in the field."

A .38 caliber shell casing found at the site was not conclusively Evert's, but he was known to carry such a weapon, she said, showing Clinton the remnant.

Clinton thanked Vietnamese officials for their help in finding MIA remains, and promised that the United States would help Vietnam learn the fate of its missing.

"Once, we met here as adversaries," Clinton said. "Today we work as partners."

Comments