Donalsonville-- Herbie Crosby and Nina Blackburn were married November 3, 1969. It was a spur of the moment wedding during Crosby's rest and relaxation period.
"We were married on monday and he had to go back to Vietnam on Thursday," remembers Nina Blackburn Pritchard. They both thought he would return in just a few months, and then they'd start their lives together. "He had his orders to be at fort rucker when he came back as an instructor pilot and that's only like 60 miles from here," Pritchard says.
But on January 10th, 1970 Crosby and 3 other soldiers were returning to base. Their helicopter hit some bad weather, and went down. "I flew with his CO for around 2 weeks looking for the helicopter, and we never did find the helicopter or the remains," says Larry Grant, Crosby's friend and fellow soldier.
For the last 37 years, Crosby's family and friends have been left waiting. . . wondering. "Losing a child and not knowing you know what the final outcome is, they never knew if he was really dead or alive or what," says Bert Thomas, a highschool classmate of Crosby's.
"I had always had the fear that he might have been captured and tortured, and that was something you didn't want to live with," says Nina. She never would have made it without the support of the community.
In 2002, this helicopter was donated to the American Legion here in Donalsonville. It was dedicated to the memory of Captain Herby Crosby, and all soldiers missing in action.
The dedication ceremony brought some amount of closure to the family, but nothing compared to yesterday's announcement that Crosby's remains had been identified. "All veterans of all wars feel the same when we find a missing person, one of our brothers had come come," says Grant.
"There's not a day that goes by that you don't think about it. Especially since we both grew up here," says Pritchard. While his death remains hard to deal with, Crosby's loved ones say the burden of not knowing, is finally lifted from their shoulders.
Crosby's remains will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.