Posted on May 28, 2012 at 9:51 PM
Monday, Aug 6 at 11:54 AM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This Memorial Day is extra special for one Scottsdale man.
After 46 years the remains of his father, who fought in the Vietnam War, have been found and the Walling family finally has closure.
“He was on his 40th mission in August and his goal was to do 100 by November,” said Michael Walling, speaking of his father, Maj. Charles Walling, who had another mission in mind. “If he could get 100 missions done he could be home to experience my birth and that was his number one goal.”
Maj. Walling, a graduate of Camelback High School and ASU, already had a 2-year-old son with his wife but had missed that birth while stationed in Japan.
He had every intention of returning home from Vietnam in time to see his second son, Michael, born. But sadly, Maj. Walling was shot down near Saigon, August 8th 1966.
“There was no parachute sited. There was nothing to indicate he survived but nothing to indicate he perished as well,” said Michael Walling.
So for the better part of 46 years the Walling family wondered what happened.
Then in 1978 President Jimmy Carter declared Maj. Walling dead, but as prisoners of war came home the Walling family kept their hopes high.
“We never gave up hope we were always praying.”
Then in 1994 an archaeological team was sent in to search the crash site and Maj. Walling's dog tag was found. Then in 2006 a second search was conducted and last December came word the remains of Major Walling were found.
“For us it was like hitting the lottery,” said Michael Walling. “This is the only country I know of in the world that expends the resources to honor the commitment to fallen men.”
Next month the Walling family will be flying to Arlington National Cemetery where the the remains of Maj. Walling will finally be laid to rest.
That is just part of what makes this Memorial Day so special and the reason the Walling family celebrates.
“Not just pay respect to a father and grandfather but all the men and women who sacrifice so much.”