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Nellis Hosts Funeral for Vietnam Combat Pilot | News

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Nellis Hosts Funeral for Vietnam Combat Pilot

Nellis AFB -- An Air Force Thunderbird pilot missing in action for more than 40 years in has finally been found and brought back to Nellis Air Force Base.

Forty-three years ago, Major Russell Goodman was shot down over North Vietnam. Witnesses who saw his fighter jet explode told his family he was lost, but Thursday they have closure knowing their father is back home.

"Dad deserved this honor. He deserved today and I am just glad that we were able to give it to him," said Goodman's daughter Sue Stein. "He is a hero and I am just glad that he is home and I am also very happy they he is with mom."

Goodman's wife passed away just six days before the family was told his remains had been found.

His daughters, who were just 9 and 10 when they lost their father, say he has always been a hero in their eyes and it feels good to know he is back home and being honed as a hero by his fellow Thunderbirds.

Goodman's navigator, Gary Thornton, survived the crash and was immediately captured and held for six years at a POW camp. He says it feels good now that the entire crew has made it back from Vietnam. "Today, almost 43 years later, we can finally celebrate the return home of the man who was our father, friend and mentor," he said.

At the time of his death, Major Goodman was a pilot with the Thunderbirds. He was on a Navy exchange program flying bombing missions in Vietnam.

Major Goodman will be taken back to Alaska by his family where he will be buried.