Vietnam War veteran missing for 51 years laid to rest in Tennessee

Missing Vietnam War veteran laid to rest

Last Updated Mar 4, 2019 11:36 PM EST

A Vietnam War veteran was finally laid to rest on Saturday, 51 years after he went missing. In 1968, 27-year-old Rich "Tito" Lannom's plane disappeared.

It took until last September for an excavation team to discover his remains on the remote island of Tra Ban, off the north Vietnam coast. The colonel who led the recovery mission told CBS News last week it took multiple boat rides, followed by a harrowing two and a half hour climb up steep cliffs.

Saturday marked the end of a long journey, not only for Lannom, but for his wife at the time, Charlotte Shaw. After Lannom disappeared, she joined the National League of POW/MIA families and lobbied for the return of prisoners of war. She remarried, but the mystery of what happened to Lannom remained until she received word his remains were found.

"It was the most overwhelming, unbelievable, astounding news," Shaw said.

She was among those who welcomed Lannom back to his hometown of Union City, Tennessee, where he was laid to rest in a graveside service with full military honors.

Lannom would have been 78 years old.

"In some ways, it's been hard the last few weeks, some of the people calling and telling me things I didn't know. Sweet things, you know, it's like, time was too short. I wish I'd known more," Shaw said.