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m4012 BC-MN MIA, Kenyon Air 1stLd-Writethru 06-12 0356

I emailed Mike D. and Mike K. that this is on the wire. They took it from the Northfield paper. - Ken H.

Associated Press

KENYON — A Minnesota fighter pilot will be laid to rest here this weekend, nearly 38 years after he disappeared over Laos during the Vietnam War.

Mary Danielson-Gates learned that her husband, Capt. Ben Danielson, was missing in action in early December 1969. She became an activist on behalf of wives of MIAs. But when North Vietnam released its prisoners of war in 1973 and Ben wasn’t among them, Danielson-Gates said she knew she would never see him alive again.

Now Danielson-Gates is preparing for a swell of emotions Friday and Saturday as "Welcome Home & Tribute to Sacrifice" activities and a funeral are held for her late husband.

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Her son, Brain Danielson, who was 18 months old when his father went off to war, traveled with a forensic team to Laos last year to recover his remains, which came home to Kenyon on Memorial Day weekend.

"After Ben was declared killed in action in July 1976, we held a memorial service. But it is not the same as a funeral," Danielson-Gates said. "I’m looking forward to Saturday and putting my husband’s remains to rest. It’s not for closure. I don’t like that word because it sounds more like closing up a house. It’s more about bringing him home. It puts a gentle peace in my heart to know his remains are back home in Kenyon."

Mary and Ben grew up together in Kenyon. They started dating their junior year of high school and were married 3 1/2 years when he died at age 26.

A military service is planned for 3:30 p.m. Friday at Holden Lutheran Church near Kenyon. His funeral is at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at First Lutheran Church in Kenyon.

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