Local Airman Buried After 38 Years MIA

8-6-04 - A Grayson County man was laid to rest Friday, 38 years after his plane was shot down in the jungles of Laos, during the Vietnam War. Chief Master Sergeant Luther L. Rose, a graduate of Sherman High in 1942, was buried at Akers Cemetery with full military honors – 9 years after DNA testing identified his remains.

On June 23, 1966, Rose was serving as a gunner on an AC-47 Spooky gunship on a nighttime, armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos. At about 9:25 p.m., the aircraft radioed, “We have a hot fire,” and another radio transmission was heard to order, “bail out.” Witnesses reported the aircraft was on fire, then crashed into a heavily wooded area 30 miles northeast of Tchepone, in Khannouan Province, Laos. No parachutes from the six-member crew were observed and no emergency beepers were heard. An aerial search of the site found no evidence of survivors.

Reported as Missing in Action, it wasn’t until 1978 that the military declared Rose as Killed in Action. Then in October 1994, in cooperation with the Lao government, a joint team of U.S. and Lao specialists traveled to a suspected crash site in Khammouan Province where a villager took them to an area where personal effects, aircraft wreckage, crew-related materials and a crew member’s identification tag were found.

In May-June 1995, a joint U.S.-Lao team excavated the site where they recovered human remains as well as identification media of other aircrew members. The U.S. recovery team members were from the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI). CILHI scientists applied a wide array of forensic techniques to the recovered remains, including comparisons of dental charts and x-rays, as well as the use of mitochondrial DNA sequencing.

Today his family members said it was a long time in coming, but they’re glad to have Rose back in Texas.