Skip to main content

With military short on funds, two airmen get private flyover during burial

By Greg Seaby, CNN
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Tue September 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Sizemore and Howard Andre Jr. were shot down over Laos in 1969
  • The remains of the majors weren't discovered until April
  • The nonprofit Warrior Aviation provided the private flyover at Arlington

(CNN) -- Two U.S. Air Force officers who died in a crash in Laos in 1969 were laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery and honored with a final flyover -- but not one provided by the U.S. military.

Citing budget concerns, the Air Force denied a request to honor the fallen service members with a military flyover. That prompted a private air squadron to step in.

"Unfortunately, the government hasn't been able to supply flyovers for these gentlemen that have served and gave up the greatest sacrifice they could, so all of us have decided to go ahead and fulfill the mission," said Calvin Peacock, a volunteer with nonprofit group Warrior Aviation.

Maj. James Sizemore of Lawrenceville, Illinois, and Maj. Howard Andre Jr. of Memphis, Tennessee, were shot down in their A-26A Invader aircraft during a reconnaissance mission over Laos during the Vietnam War, according to the Defense Department. The pilots were considered killed in action.

The crash site was discovered in 1993, but the pilots' remains were not discovered until April. Military scientists then matched the remains with the dental records of Sizemore, solving the 44-year-old mystery and bringing closure to the families.

It was a true honor to be a part of the group that is allowed to do this.
Larry Kelly, Warrior Aviation volunteer

A flyover is a military ceremonial ritual reserved for the most esteemed of fallen service members. The Department of Defense refused a military flyover for Sizemore and Andre because of the forced budget cuts known as sequestration.

The private squadron consisted of a B-25, two P-51s, four L-39 jets and an A-26 Invader, the same type of plane Sizemore and Andre flew. The Warrior Aviation organization is comprised of volunteers, most of whom are veterans.

"People like myself, the Vietnam generation, we know what sacrifice these guys made. It was a true honor to be a part of the group that is allowed to do this. When they asked me to do this, I said, 'Absolutely, it would be a honor, '" said Warrior Aviation volunteer Larry Kelly.

The Defense Department records indicate that more than 1,640 American military personnel are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

Civil War sailors laid to rest 150 years later

A war hero returns home, 40 years later

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 6:29 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT