SAN DIEGO – The saga of a San Diego Navy pilot missing in action for 50 years came to a close Friday morning as the remains of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Crosby returned home.
The Naval commander's flag-draped coffin arrived at Lindbergh Field from Hawaii just after noon.
As his children, all now in late middle age, watched, their emotions flowed.
“It’s nice to be able to let out the tears and to have some relief in our hearts,” said Deborah Crosby.
Crosby had four children. Deborah is his only daughter.
He was a Navy pilot based out of Miramar Air Field. In 1965, he left for the Vietnam War, never to return. He was shot down during a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Deborah was just shy of 7 years old when her father was declared missing.
“He was so just handsome and such a great dad. I just held onto memories from that age. I kept my memories alive,” the daughter said.
As the years passed, the memories weren’t enough. It was a comment by Deborah’s grandmother that sparked a desire to find her father.
“She said that that they know exactly where his plane went down, and that she would like him buried here,” said Deborah.
It wasn’t until 2015, during the fourth recovery mission, that crews ran into the villager that witnessed Crosby's crash 50 years ago. He led them to the exact location of the wrecked F-8 Crusader plane.
“This was a huge fish pond full of clay and mud. They emptied it and they found his ring, his lighter and his uniform, parts of the plane,” said Deborah. “We’re just so grateful.”
Now with their hearts full of gratitude, the Crosby family is able to close this long-incomplete chapter in the life of Lt. Cmdr, Frederick Crosby, a true American hero.
“Now we can we can talk proudly. We have a happier ending and we can visit my dad at his gravesite now,” said Deborah.
Crosby will be buried Sunday morning at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with full military honors. He is the posthumous recipient of the Medal of Valor Distinguished Flying Cross Award.