BILLINGS — More than 54 years after he was shot down and killed while flying a scouting mission during the Vietnam War, Lt. Ray Krogman is finally home.
The remains of the Wyoming Airman, who was shot down over Laos on Jan. 17, 1967, at the age of 25 arrived at Billings Logan International Airport just before 1 p.m. Monday.
It was a day that members of Krogman’s family have long been waiting for and feared may never come.
“Grandma never gave up hope. She passed in ’90, but you know they looked for him for a long time and they had ideas, but every time we got a report it was no news. So when that came it was truly a blessing,” says Krogman’s niece, Kelly Krogman Steindorf, who was six years old when her uncle was killed.
After Krogman’s flag-draped coffin was unloaded from the plane, an honor guard ceremony was performed. From there, he began the journey back to his hometown of Worland, Wyo., where Krogman had been president of his high school class, an athlete, and an Eagle Scout.
A troop of Scouts was among those who joined the procession route along Highway 3 in Billings to salute the hearse carrying Krogman.
“Well I felt it was important to be here today because it’s definitely not every day that we find remains, especially as old as like the Vietnam war and a lot of times especially with Vietnam veterans they did not get the respect they deserved when they came back,” said Hunter Greggor, with Troop 28.
Pete Herzog, a Vietnam Veteran who fought in the TET Offensive in 1968 was also on hand.
“That’s a long time to be out there with no one around to support you, so it’s really great to see that they found him and they are bringing him home,” he said.
A scientific recovery expert working at the crash site in early 2019 reported the possible recovery of remains and evidence, which were identified as those of Lt. Krogman in July of last year finally giving his family some closure.
“We waited for a long time for him to come home. We just never dreamed it would be with all this fanfare and honor to have all the military and the patriot riders and everything. It’s just truly a blessing. Thank God he is coming home now,” said his niece.
A public service for Lt. Krogman will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Worland Middle School Auditorium at 2150 Howell Avenue in Worland, Wyo.