May 27, 2013
This memorial day, many people gathered at the grave sites of fallen soldiers and veterans who gave their lives in the line of duty. But the family of one Marion man, has never gotten the chance to bury their loved on.
After her graduated from K-State in 1963, Dean Klenda joined the air force and became a pilot.
"So he flew missions as a very young pilot into Vietnam,” Deanna Klenda said about her brother.
Major Dean Klenda flew his last mission on September 17, 1965. He was flying over north Vietnam when his plan was hit by enemy fire. Deanna says his commanding officer saw Dean eject from his plane.
"He said he was %99.9 sure the parachute did not open,” Klenda said.
Major Dean's body wasn't found that day. Deanna and her family were notified that he was missing in action. Forty-eight years later, he still is.
“You just wait, and you wait. I've been waiting since September 17th, 1965,” Klenda said.
The area where Dean's plane went down has been searched several times over the years. They found his plane, parts of his jumpsuit, and two coins that they believe he had on him when he crashed. They've never found his remains.
Recently though, a witness who lives near the area came forward and said years ago he found and buried a human bone.
“And they're pretty sure it's my brother's jaw bone,” Klenda said.
Deanna says she's repeatedly asked the government to go to Vietnam and find that bone but was told because of the Sequester and federal budget cuts the funds just aren't there.
Deanna says upset but she's not ready to give up. She's held out hope for nearly 50 years that she will one be able to bury her brother, and she still has hope.
“I could bring home a tiny little piece and I can bury my brother,” Klenda said.