A few days later, Glenn W. Jackson remembers, he was at home near San Diego when the car pulled up with the pastor. He was 9, and his mother sent him outside while she learned of his father’s death in Vietnam.
It was July 1967.
On Thursday the two, who had never met, were together at Arlington National Cemetery, with dozens of others, separated by events of 45 years but linked by four men who were killed in a battle that, one way or another, had touched them all.
They were four sailors, the crew of a Navy rescue helicopter, who were shot down during a brutal two-day battle to retrieve Duthie and another Navy pilot who had been brought down trying to bomb a bridge.
The North Vietnamese fought bitterly with missiles and antiaircraft guns to prevent the rescue. The Americans fought back, with jets and helicopters, to retrieve the men. Only Duthie was saved.
And Navy Lt. Dennis Peterson, 28; Ensign Donald P. Frye, 23; and technicians William Jackson, 32, and Donald P. McGrane, 24, perished when their helicopter was brought down and blew up on impact.
On Thursday, in a solemn ceremony, the Pentagon buried a single casket with remains that it said represented the four men as family, friends and veterans of the ’67 fighting watched.
It was quiet except for the birds and the clatter of the horses pulling the caisson bearing the flag-draped coffin. A procession of mourners followed on foot. At one point, a flight of Navy jets streaked across the clear blue sky in salute.
“They were very important guys, and unbelievably brave,” Duthie, 70, who had traveled from Walla Walla, Wash., for the funeral, said Wednesday.
Glenn Jackson, 54, had traveled from Donald, Ore., “to honor my dad, for one thing,” he said Wednesday.
“Also to honor the other guys that are on this crew, too. All four were heroes. You think about what they did. For basically somebody that they really didn’t know. . . . All they knew was that he was another Navy pilot and that he needed help.”
Some remains of Frye, Jackson and McGrane had been returned to the United States by the Vietnamese in 1982 and buried by their families.
But the Pentagon said later searches in Vietnam in 1994 and 2000 produced dog tags, other artifacts and additional remains that were associated with all four men. Those commingled remains were buried Thursday.
Several present said they had been at the 1982 funerals, but felt they needed to attend this time, too.
“If they throw another funeral, we’ll come,” said Frye’s older sister, Linda Kay Frye, who had come from Los Angeles. “My brother was standing up for everybody all his life.”
The deaths of the four men came amid a brutal duel between the Americans and the North Vietnamese over a small bridge south of Hanoi.