- Associated Press - Friday, March 1, 2019

UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) - A Navy bombardier and navigator from Tennessee who served during the Vietnam War and was missing in action for 50 years before his remains were identified is being laid to rest this weekend.

A funeral service for Navy Lt. Richard C. “Tito” Lannom is scheduled Saturday at Discovery Park of America in Union City. A news release from the west Tennessee museum and education center said services are set to include a funeral, a processional with motorcycle escorts, and a graveside service with full military honors and flyover by two EA-18G Growler aircraft.

An Obion County native, the 27-year-old Lannom was assigned to the USS Enterprise when his A-6A aircraft went missing during a March 1968 mission over North Vietnam. Lannom and the pilot were declared missing after a search and rescue mission failed to locate the plane.

A Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons team excavated a crash site in late 2017. Lannom was identified in September 2018 through DNA testing and evidence found at the site.

Lannom was a high school athlete in Union City and he graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin, according to the museum. His widow, Charlotte Shaw, led a letter-writing campaign in support of the search for Lannom.

“He loved being from a small town,” said Shaw, who eventually remarried. “I wanted him to return to the home he loved.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared Saturday a day of mourning for Lannom.

Visitation is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Discovery Park of America. Funeral services start at 1 p.m.

Following the service, a processional including city, county and state law enforcement, and military support organizations such as Rolling Thunder, Patriot Guard and the American Legion Riders, will travel to East View Cemetery for the graveside ceremony.

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