Col. Leo “Sid” Boston came home to his wife and children Friday.
They had waited for 45 years, since the Air Force pilot went missing in North Vietnam.
The reunion happened at the Air Force Academy cemetery, where Boston now rests next to his wife Dorothy. She died in 1988 without knowing if her husband’s remains would ever be recovered.
“There were many times when we thought we would never see this day,” said Stephanie Danielson, Boston’s daughter.
“It’s hard to keep up hope,” Boston’s son John said.
A Canon City native, Boston joined the Air Force after college. Dorothy, his high school sweetheart, became his wife and the couple had three children.
“He was a good guy,” said Ed McHale of Monument, who flew fighters alongside Boston when both were assigned to Air Defense Command. “He was a born-to-fly guy.”
For his wartime deployment, Boston left his fighter behind and took to the sky in the A-1 Skyraider, a World War II relic that was beloved by ground troops because it flew low and carried six tons of bombs.
A primary mission for A-1 pilots was locating downed Air Force comrades in Vietnam and using bombs, rockets and gunfire to keep them safe until help arrived.
“Our mission was to find the survivors and sanitize the area so the helicopter could get in,” said Jim Monk of Colorado Springs, who flew A-1s over Vietnam in 1969.
But a Skyraider, which could deliver plenty of punishment on the ground, was no match for the maneuverable and speedy fighter Boston tangled with on his last mission on April 29, 1966 when he was sent from Thailand in search of a downed flyer.
Boston went down in the dense jungle near the Black River in Son La Province. It would be three decades before the Air Force began discovering what happened to him.
The family waited. They cried in 1978 when the government announced the Boston wasn’t just missing, he was presumed dead.
The children buried their mother, who had spent years calling politicians and generals to speed her husband’s return.
American military teams were allowed to return to North Vietnam in the 1990s to hunt for missing troops.
Villagers in Son La told them about a 1966 crash. Remains were recovered, but the wait continued. Technology to assess the tiny amounts of DNA present in the remains hadn’t been invented.
This spring, though, new scientific methods solved the case. In April, the Pentagon announced that Boston had been found.
On Friday, the hearse carrying his remains drove past lines of saluting basic cadets before he was buried in the cemetery, surrounded by Air Force legends.
“It made these basic trainees understand we take care of our own,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, academy superintendent.
Danielson said her father is finally home.
“It’s such a blessing.”