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Servicemen laid to rest ... 38 years later

A return home from the Vietnam War with full military honors

From Paul Courson
CNN Washington Bureau

A U.S. Marine Corps rifle squad gave the servicemen a 21 gun salute during the service Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Funerals came nearly four decades late for four U.S. servicemen, three of whom who were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.

They died May 9, 1967, when their reconnaissance patrol came under heavy fire near the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Surviving patrol members were unable to recover their bodies before being taken to safety by rescue helicopter.

Marine Cpl. Ron Zaczek, the crew chief of that helicopter, said he had talked with the men's relatives and "they told me that they never resented any of the guys that lived ... and they understood why we couldn't get them out. For me that is about as close as it gets to finishing the job."

As part of a joint U.S.-Vietnam effort to recover remains and document the fate of soldiers missing from the war, local citizens came forward in 1991 offering information and skeletal remains as proof they knew where the dead Americans were lost.

After several excavations in recent years, forensic scientists were able to identify U.S. Marine Sgt. James Tycz of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Marine Lance Cpl. Samuel Sharp Jr. of San Jose, California; Marine 2nd Lt. Heinz Almeyer Jr. of Pearl River, New York; and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Malcolm Miller of Tampa, Florida.

Sharp was buried Saturday with his family in his hometown, but received full military honors along with his comrades who were buried Tuesday at Arlington.

Almeyer's sister, Irene, told CNN she's glad for the closure. "I really didn't think that after all these years that they would find my brother. But I am very, very grateful, " she said.

A single hearse delivered the remains of the three men for a group burial in a shared casket.

With an American flag resting on top, the casket was carried by honorary pallbearers who gently lowered it to the ground.

They held the American flag above the casket as a Marine band played "Taps," a rifle squad fired three volleys, and clergymen said prayers for the men.

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