Air Force pilot killed in Vietnam honored posthumously
Updated On: Dec 07 2012 08:58:58 PM MST
Forty-six years after he was shot down over North Vietnam, the father of a Missoula woman has been awarded medals of honor for service to his country.
For years, nobody knew whether Colonel Donald Singer was alive or dead. He was just missing.
His family would spend 11 years in limbo.
His remains were returned in 1977, and on Pearl Harbor Day, he was honored as an American hero.
Susan Vincent was only 10 when her dad's jet went down in North Vietnam.
Then Major Donald Singer was the co-pilot in a two seat F-105, code named Wild Weasel. Singer ejected.
Witnesses reported seeing his parachute and streamer, and his pilot transmitted a voice message. But for years, neither man was found.
"I just wanted my father home," said Susan Vincent.
"Today Colonel Singer's remains rest at Arlington National Cemetery," said U.S. Senator Jon Tester, before a crowd that came to honor the late pilot and his family.
The Senator loaded Susan Vincent and her daughters down with medals.
Among them, a purple heart, a Presidential Unit Citation, Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross.
"God he just looks so young," said Donald Singer's granddaughter, and Susan's daughter, Laura Vincent.
She looked at a photo of the grandpa she's only known through family stories, and wiped away tears.
Laura's sister Katherine said growing up she always heard stories about her heroic grandfather.
But Susan said for years the military was so secret about her dad's situation.
Families, she said, were instructed not to tell anyone about their loved ones MIA or POW status.
Susan's late mother Elizabeth worked tirelessly for transparency.
The family once went to Paris to demand information from a North Vietnamese Peace delegation.
Susan inherited her father's eyes and his POW bracelet.
Her father's medals, on this December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, are her birthday present.