ARLINGTON, Va. -- More than 44 years after their A-26 was shot down over Laos, Air Force Maj. James Sizemore and Maj. Howard Andre were buried side by side yesterday.

The ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, with twin coffins and colors teams, an escort and firing party, formally ended the decades that the officers' families had spent in limbo, awaiting the return of remains from a country where the United States never officially fought, from a failed mission that never officially occurred.

Sizemore and Andre were on "a night armed reconnaissance mission," as the Pentagon described it in a release last week announcing that the airmen had been identified.

The families of the missing in action counted heavily on one another, mourning but never fully moving on. The Sizemores and Andres lived with a particular emptiness: Their men gave their lives in a secret war, without official acknowledgment.

Wreckage of the A-26 first was spotted in 1993, and the families waited an additional 17 years for the site to be excavated. It was not until five months ago that the remains were identified.

-- The Washington Post

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