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U.S. Navy Corpsman Finally Laid to Rest

After 46 years, a Sailor left in Vietnam returns home

Only one month shy of coming home from Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael B. Judd, a corpsman with Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, was aboard a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter attempting to insert a team into hostile territory.

Moments later the helicopter was hit by small arms fire and crashed.

To Judd's family's relief, he eventually made it home. It only took 46 years.

Due to the location of the crash, Judd's body was not recovered until 2012, when recovery teams were able to return to Vietnam and excavate the crash site.

Officials contacted the Judd family in early 2013, which began Judd's journey to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery, where his family attended his burial ceremony, July 15.

"We had put our brother to rest in our minds," said Chris Judd, Michael's older brother and a Navy veteran himself. "In February, it all came back. It's been quite an emotional rollercoaster this past few months with all the memories coming back."

As the time for the ceremony approached, Judd's concern was for his 95-year old mother.

"I wasn't sure my mother could deal with it," said Judd, holding back tears. "She's doing better than I am."

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The senior Judd joined the Navy when he was 17, and became a submariner.

"He was my kid brother. He came in after me," said Judd.

Judd said that his brother served with the Marines in the Washington, D.C., area before heading to Vietnam. He had been there a year, behind enemy lines on routine patrols before he was shot down.

"He was due to come home after a year, 13 months on his birthday, to Cleveland; and he died a month short of that," said Judd.

Judd talked about the emotional release his family has had in burying their loved one at Arlington, and about the new friends they have made in people who served with and were friends with his brother.

He became choked up once more as he spoke of the privilege in having his brother laid to rest in this place.

"We felt it was important to be here at Arlington because it's an honor. It's a place we can go," said Judd, who now lives within driving distance of Arlington, in Frederick, Md.

HM3 Judd was not the only American waiting for his trip home. Nearly 2,500 Americans did not return from Southeast Asia at the end of the war. The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office continues to work to account for these missing Americans.