ALBANY, GA (WALB) - United States Air Force Col. William "Earl" Cooper was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery last week, nearly five decades later.
The Clark Family returned home just yesterday from Virginia, after attending a funeral they never thought they'd see.
The family of United States Air Force Col. William "Earl" Cooper gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to lay their hero to rest.
"All his children were there. And, his children, grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren were there. And his sister,” said Lisa Clark.
It was a service his family thought would never happen.
His plane was shot down in 1966, and Cooper was officially declared killed in action in 1978.
"We knew. We didn't have something in the back of our minds saying that he was still there," said Lisa Clark.
In 1989, remains were recovered from the area where Cooper's plane went down. 25 years later, the family got confirmation that the remains were Cooper's.
"And just out of the blue, in December, my mom gets the call. And, it's the call you never thought you would get. After 48 plus years, you never thought you would get it anymore," continued Clark.
Monday night, after hearing the story, an Albany woman who owned a POW-MIA bracelet with Cooper's name on it decided to give it to the family.
"And, to realize that he's from here. And then to realize that they live less than two miles away from me was pretty incredible. it was like a full circle moment,” said Marie Watson-Allen.
Now that Cooper has been returned home and laid to rest, both Watson-Allen and Clark have found a sense of peace.
"Just very relieved, because that's one family that has answers," continued Watson-Allen.
"To finally say yes, you know. I have a grandfather. He died a hero. He died in the Vietnam War and this is where he's laid to rest. I can say that now,” said Clark.
The family wanted me to make sure they thanked the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Albany American Post 30 Legion for helping them find closure.