Military News

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Son ensures Vietnam Veteran is laid to rest

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

5/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois -- Everyone who joins the military understands and accepts that they are fighting for the freedom of the citizens of the United States and that there's a possibility that they might not make it out alive.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were 58,220 U.S. military casualties of the Vietnam War.

Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever and nine other Airmen from the 6994th Security Squadron became a part of that unfortunately large number of casualties on February 5, 1969.

Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever was onboard an EC-47Q, for an airborne radio detection mission to intercept enemy radio signals and report their location when it was shot down by enemy fire. Four months later the crash site was located. The Air Force attempted to retrieve the remains of those onboard, but only recovered commingled remains. None of the 10 crew members were accounted for, including Clever.

His son, Paul Clever, who was six-years-old at the time of his father's death, did not accept that his father could not be recovered.

"The only way I could find some closure," said Paul Clever, "was to take ownership myself."

Once Paul Clever became an adult, he founded the organization Maximum Recovery in Southeast Asia, with hope to locate the remains of his father. In December 2012, Paul Clever and his wife, Nita Clever, travelled across the world to the jungles of southern Laos to search for the crash site.

After they located the crash site, they found bones and other artifacts there. Testing was performed on DNA found at the site and seven crew members from the wreck were identified.

Paul Clever was relieved to learn that some of the remains found at the site were identified as belonging to Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever.

All of the other remains found at the site were respectfully returned to the families of the other service members killed during the crash, to be laid to rest.

Having found his father's remains, Paul clever was left to lay his father to rest.

Alan Cronin, Air Force Mortuary Affairs, worked with Paul Clever to ensure that the proper respect and honor was given to Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever at his funeral service.

"From the first time I spoke with Alan he was very receptive," said Paul Clever. "In a lot of ways we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Alan Cronin stepping up and driving the right thing to do."

The St. Louis Patriot Guard Riders, a group of veteran-loving motorcycle riders, attended the dignified arrival, the hand-to-hand transfer of the casket and the funeral service, and escorted Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever between those locations to show him the proper respect and honor.

Robert Smith, Senior Ride Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders, said, "We're helping the family to find closure. Our hero today, [Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever], sacrificed his life for our freedoms and it is very important that we pay him his respects, but also bury him on American soil."

Finally, on May 22, 2015, after more than 45 years, Tech. Sgt. Louis Clever was laid to rest alongside his wife, Deborah Clever, at the Jefferson Barracks cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Scott Air Force Base Honorguardsmen performed full military honors at the funeral service.

After spending almost his entire life in search of closure and finding rest for his father, Paul Clever said, "I became a different person and it was like being cured of insanity."

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