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Dan
07-16-2005, 11:15
From today's frontpage of The Fayetteville Observer:

Family's search for soldier's remains finally ends
By Matt Leclercq
Staff writer

Lt. Col. Marvin L. Foster said goodbye to his family in Fayetteville and deployed to Vietnam in 1969. A few days later, his plane disappeared in a mission across mountains.

On Friday, the Pentagon said it had identified the remains of Foster and three other soldiers who died with him. The discovery of a crash site 25 miles northwest of the coastal city of Da Nang solved part of a mystery that had perplexed Foster's family since he vanished March 16, 1969.

"This is a day that I never thought would come," said granddaughter Angela Foster. "I just didn't expect them to find him after 36 years. You don't think anybody's looking, I guess."

Military officials said they believed weather downed the Army's U-21A Ute aircraft with five aboard as it flew from an airfield in South Vietnam to the Phu Bai airport near Hue. Combat search-and-rescue teams searched the mountains and nearby sea for eight days but found nothing.

According to the Pentagon, the Vietnamese government in the late 1980s gave U.S. authorities boxes of unidentified human remains and ID tags for two soldiers who were on the plane, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond E. Bobe and Capt. David R. Smith, the pilot.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducted seven investigations during the 1990s trying to locate the crash. An excavation began in 2000. By this spring, specialists had confirmed the identities of Bobe and Smith, along with Foster and a fourth soldier - Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Batt - using DNA from living relatives.

The fifth soldier remains unaccounted for.

Foster was a Special Forces soldier who enlisted in the Army shortly after the Pearl Harbor attacks, his family says. He served during World War II. During time spent stationed in Germany, he met the woman he would marry.

Debby Fraughton, one of the Fosters' three children, was 14 when her father left on his second deployment to Vietnam. She got a postcard from Hawaii dated March 8. Then, nothing.

"When they first notified us that he was missing in Vietnam in 1969, I really didn't know what that meant," said Fraughton, a rancher in southwest Wyoming. "I was 14. To me, it meant he was gone for a while, and my father had been gone a few times."

Fraughton and her mother, Erna Foster, went to meetings, MIA rallies and even to Laos in search of answers. Erna Foster kept her home on Orchard Drive, just off Bragg Boulevard, exactly as her husband left it. A wooden boat he built stayed in the yard. The furniture he crafted, his drawings and oil paintings, and his portrait above the piano - nothing moved for about 10 years, until the military declared Foster dead.

Erna Foster died three years ago. She knew the military was working on remains that were probably her husband's. She spoke little of her husband over the years and never remarried. Fraughton said the loss was difficult.

"You would rather know something, anything, because not knowing - you always got that tiny bit of hope," she said. "Everybody used to ask me if I thought my dad was a POW, and I never did. I figured my dad, if he was a POW, he was so well-trained he would have died trying to get out."

The Pentagon says 1,827 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, including 1,393 who went missing in Vietnam.

Angela Foster and her younger brother, Danny, both live in Fayetteville. When growing up, neither knew much about their grandfather. Danny Foster began researching him on the Internet a few months ago and was surprised by how many people were interested in his disappearance.

"There are Web sites of people who wore his (POW) bracelet in the '70s,'' Danny Foster said. "Hundreds of sites just on him. I couldn't believe it."

Danny Foster has compiled a scrapbook from his research. He wants to pass along his grandfather's story to his 3-year-old son, Chase, who will carry on the Foster name.

The family has not decided on arrangements or a service for when the remains are handed over.

"It was a relief, really, that they had finally found what had happened to him and they could bring him home," Danny Foster said. "I think he was very brave."

Staff writer Matt Leclercq can be reached at leclercq@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3551.

The Reaper
07-16-2005, 11:36
RIP, Colonel.

Welcome home.

TR

Doc
07-16-2005, 12:12
RIP COL,

DOL

Doc

Jack Moroney (RIP)
07-16-2005, 12:18
Welcome Home.

brewmonkey
07-16-2005, 22:33
Welcome home sir, Rest In Peace.

12B4S
07-17-2005, 03:49
Rest In Peace Sir.......

jbour13
07-17-2005, 10:05
Welcome home Sir, RIP.

Goggles Pizano
07-17-2005, 18:58
Rest in peace Sir.

CPTAUSRET
07-17-2005, 19:07
Welcome home!

Blue skies:

Rest In Peace:

vsvo
07-17-2005, 21:50
Rest in Peace, Colonel.

aricbcool
07-20-2005, 18:09
RIP, Sir.

Maas
07-20-2005, 21:06
Welcome home Sir.