An Airman who went missing in action over North Vietnam in 1966 was buried with full military honors at the Air Force Academy on Friday.
The funeral ceremony for Colonel Leo Sidney Boston was held at the Air Force Academy Cemetery on Friday afternoon. A large crowd, including Boston's friends and family were on hand, as well as a large contingent of the Patriot Guard.
"It's just such a blessing," said his daughter Stephanie Boston Danielson on Friday. "It's overwhelming, but it's a good feeling too. I feel very warm."
Boston's children, and his mother, Edythe Hall Boston were presented with American flags at the ceremony. A flyover of four F-16's capped off the service. His family hopes many will remember Col. Boston the way they do:
"As a hero that served his country and was glad to do so," said Stephanie.
Stephanie was a little girl when her father was a member of the 14th Air Commando Wing assigned to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in 1966. That year, he went MIA.
Then a captain, he was the pilot of an A-1E Skyraider which was on a search and rescue mission when he was reported missing. The general procedure for a rescue escort entailed two A-1 Skyraiders flying directly to the search area to look for signs of the downed crewmen while two other A-1s escorted the rescue helicopter to the area. If necessary, the A-1s would attack enemy in the area with bombs, rockets and cannon fire so that the rescue helicopter could land.
His aircraft, the lead plane in a flight of two, became separated from the other aircraft during the mission. No visual contact was made and no radio transmissions were received from him.
"There was a turn, all of a sudden my dad had just vanished," said Stephanie.
The last known location of the flight was about five miles west of the Black River in Son La Province, North Vietnam.
From Canon City, and a father of three, Boston had a passion for flying. His disappearance helped touch off a search that ended decades later with an advance in modern science.
"We really never thought we'd see this day so many times. It's just a blessing for our family.
Between 1996 and 2005, joint U.S.-Vietnam teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, analyzed numerous leads, interviewed villagers in Son La Province, and conducted excavations that recovered aircraft wreckage, human remains and crew-related equipment.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Boston’s mother and brother – in the identification. His remains were positively identified April 4, 2011.
"It is a special day for dad to be back home...and it does feel like a homecoming," Stephanie said.
Col. Boston will be laid to rest next to his wife Deanna who was buried at the Air Force Academy 23 years ago.
"I think they're already together, but now it will be formally a place that we can visit," said Stephanie. "He loved serving his country and I think his country is now again able to serve him."
With the accounting of Colonel Boston, 1,687 service members still remain missing from the conflict.