WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 09, 2010, 04:01 PM

Family Remembers Pilot Shot Down In Vietnam

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - In a few days they will be arriving from across the country. Family and classmates from Shanley and NDSU will arrive to remember and honor Major Tom Beyer. The Air Force pilot was just 27 when his plane was shot down in Vietnam, July 30th, 1968.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Back home waiting for him was his wife and two small children. Now the wait is over. 42-years later, the remains of Tom Beyer have finally been recovered and identified. His funeral is set for December 18th in Fargo. We hear tonight from the daughter who at the age of four watched her father leave for war, and never return.

“I need two boys and two girls for cowboy tag.”

When she's not running to her own children to games, Sandra Meyer is teaching Algebra and Phy-Ed in Hillsboro, but she is also planning a homecoming.

Sandra: “My brother and I did not have the memories, because we were too little.”

Sandra Meyer and her brother Steven have some precious pictures to look at today. They are memories of a father holding them, cuddling them, a great snapshot of a man whose time as a father would be cut so short.

SANDRA MEYERTom's Daughter: “Everybody talked about him, but my brother and I could not because we did not have the memories. So it was nice to see the stories and see the pictures.”

And now this news that finally the dad she only knows from pictures is coming home.

“And I thought I would die, never knowing.”

42-years after his plane was shot down in Vietnam, his remains have been found.

“The hope of hearing anything was not in my mind anymore.”

All this time has passed, hopes dashed, the wait now over.

“We never thought we would ever hear anything. So it at first was shocking. I could not believe that it was him and they found something because you just had given up on hearing any news of him.”

And for Tom Beyer's grandchildren, like 17-year old Rachel, it is a lot to process. The dashing young man they knew as grandpa all these years, now coming for all to honor.

RACHEL MEYERTom's Grandaughter: “After hearing all the stories and we went through his yearbook and what his friends wrote and it seems more real to me and my mom and grandma and uncle miss him and hold on to him.”

The two children know their father thought the world of them. That's easy to see. Years later, Tom's children and mother will welcome him back home again.

“I think it will be very healing.”