Man on a mission to honor Vietnam vets

Man on a mission to get remembrance for Vietnam vets

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There are not many people who know why September 19 is significant, but a Baton Rouge man is focused on making people aware. Ashton Belcher has taken it upon himself to write Governor Bobby Jindal to ask that he help more than a dozen families honor the memories of their loved ones who have not made it back home following the Vietnam War.

Belcher has never served in the United States military, but he has stacks of service documents around his house.  Paperwork about Prisoners of War and those who are Missing In Action.

"Brings tears to my eyes when I watch the concert from the mall in D.C. on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day," said Ashton Belcher.

Belcher, who is part of the National League of Families, says there are 24 people from the state of Louisiana who are still missing.  Two of those are from Baton Rouge.  One of those missing is his older brother Major Robert Belcher.

"He was very smart and a very good pilot.  He was my big brother, my idol."

Belcher says he and his brother were 17 years apart.  He would spend summers with his brother at different Air Force bases.  In 1968, Major Belcher

was on a night mission to mark a target when his plane, an F-4 Phantom went down.

"He had been over there six months," Belcher said.  "He was on his 97 mission.  They could come home at 100."

Belcher says he remembers coming home from school and seeing two cars in front of his house. It was then that he and his family were told Major Belcher's plane was gone.

"My brother never returned from Vietnam."

A letter was later sent to the family home, notifying them that the elder Belcher had been reclassified, from Missing in Action to Killed in Action. Belcher feels his brother's remains will never be found, but now he wants people to honor those Louisiana soldiers who have still not made it home.

He says he's written the governor, asking him to declare September 19 as a day of remembrance to coincide with the national POW/MIA day.

"He died fighting for this country," Belcher said of his brother.  "They're being recognized for the sacrifice they made."

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