DENVER (CBS4) – Decades after his death a Marine’s body is back in Colorado for a proper burial.
Private First Class James J. Jacques will be buried Tuesday on what would be his 56th birthday. He died during the Vietnam War and his remains were lost at sea.
“We always wondered what happened to him,” Jacques’ sister Deloise Guerra said. “Maybe he was a prisoner of war.”
Guerra has waited 37 years to be reunited with her baby brother. The last time she saw him was 1975 when he was home on leave.
“He left from here and now he’s home,” Guerra said.
Death is never the homecoming wanted for a Marine, but now on American Airlines Flight 1225 a family’s wait ended. Nieces and nephews that never even met Jacques shared a moment they’ve talked about.
“It was like seeing my brother. I’m seeing my brother, right?” Guerra said.
Jacques died in the very last combat incident of the Vietnam War. His helicopter crashed during a rescue mission of a ship’s crew. Twenty-six men were on board. Half were rescued at sea, leaving Jacques and 12 other service members unaccounted for.
In 1995 an underwater recovery located Jacques’ remains but it would be another 17 years before there was a DNA match.
“We didn’t ever loose hope that someday we would hear something,” Guerra said.
Now a sister has something to hold on to — Jacques’ dog tags.
“I’m holding a part of him because he wore these. Those were his.”
Jacques will be buried Fort Logan National Cemetery. There will be another burial for his entire group of Marines in Arlington as well.