Remains of RI pilot shot down in Vietnam returned home

By On September 26, 2018

Remains of RI pilot shot down in Vietnam returned home

Remains of RI pilot shot down in Vietnam returned homeCopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

(Courtesy of the Rhode Island State Police)

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) -- The remains of a former Cranston native who was shot down in Vietnam have officially been returned home.

Col. Fredric M. Mellor in the U.S. Air Force Reserve was accounted for on July 13. His remains were returned by the government of Vietnam in 1991 after Vietnamese residents discovered them and his personal effects. It then took time for scientists and anthropologists to identify him through DNA and other evidence.

According to military records, on Aug. 13, 1965, Mellor had been flying the lead aircraft in a mission to conduct photo and visual reconnaissance. They were trying to determine if there was a surface-to-air missile site in the province of Son La.

In the identifying process, eyewitnesses from North Vietnam said they saw - or participated in - the shooting-down of an American aircraft and the capture and death of its pilot on Aug. 13.

Rhode Island State Police served in an honor guard Wednesday at T.F. Green International Airport as the remains of Mellor were returned home.

" ;It was important for us to be there to show our respect for Col. Mellor and his family as well as all men and women who have served in the U.S. military," Rhode Island State Police Col. Ann Assumpico said.

In the afternoon, crowds lined the streets in Cranston as Mellor's body was taken to Nardolillo Funeral Home.

Cranston mayor Allan Fung took part in the ceremony honoring Mellor.

"Col. Mellor, 53 years after you gave the ultimate sacrifice, Cranston is so honored to welcome you home," Fung said in a tweet.

Mellor will be buried Sept. 28 in Exeter at the Rhode Island Veteran's Memorial Cemetery.

Bill Tomison contributed to this report.

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